The specificities of autoantibodies directed against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) for embryonic and adult muscle AChR were studied in 22 mothers with myasthenia gravis (MG) and in their newborns using human fetus and normal adult muscle AChR preparations. 12 mothers had transmitted MG to their neonates with, in three cases, antenatal injury. A clear correlation was found between occurrence of neonatal MG (NMG) and the high overall level of anti-AChR antibodies (embryonic or adult muscle AChR). However, a strong correlation was also found between occurrence of NMG and the ratio of anti-embryonic AChR to anti-adult muscle (Te/Ta) AChR antibodies (P < 0.0002). Taken together, these data suggest that autoantibodies directed against the embryonic form of the AChR could play a predominant role in the pathogenesis of NMG. Paradoxically, the three cases with antenatal injury presumably the most severe form of NMG, were not associated with high Te/Ta. At the clinical level, these observations could prove helpful in the prediction of transmission of NMG.