1. Five patients with congenital or acquired agammaglobulinemia, lacking detectable IgA in serum or saliva, were transfused with 1 to 2 liters of normal plasma. In 2 of these patients IgA was demonstrated in parotid saliva collected after transfusion, but in none of the 5 was salivary IgG or IgM found. This observation indicates the selective transport of IgA into saliva.
2. The observation by others of an immunochemical difference between serum and sahvary IgA globulin was confirmed. In contrast to serum IgA, salivary IgA is attached to a protein having antigenicity which migrates as a gamma1 globulin. We have termed this protein component "transport piece".
3. The transport piece has been found in an unbound form in the saliva of persons completely lacking IgA: agammaglobulinemic patients, ataxia-telangiectasia patients, a healthy person lacking IgA, and a newborn infant. Free transport piece still occurs in the normal child's saliva after IgA production begins. By adulthood there is usually no free transport piece in the saliva.
4. Heat-aggregated salivary IgA, like heat-aggregated serum IgA, does not fix complement.
5. Our findings offer support for the view that there is a distinct local antibody system for the protection of the mucous surfaces.