The presence of Goodpasture's (GP) antigen in the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) of the kidney was evaluated by indirect immunofluorescence in nine patients with familial nephritis from five kindreds. The GP antigen was not detected in seven males but was present in an affected sister and mother, an unaffected brother, and 13 normal controls. The specificity of this finding in affected males is supported by the persistence of other GBM antigens identified by monoclonal antibodies. The lack of GP antigen in affected males and its persistence in related females with the disease suggests a possible X-linked dominant mode of inheritance. We propose that the absence of GP antigen leads to severe disease in the male, whereas its presence in related females is associated with mild disease.