Sera from patients with American cutaneous leishmaniasis and Chagas disease and from monkeys infected with either Trypanosoma cruzi or Trypanosoma rhodesiense show, in RIAs, strong binding to mouse laminin. A distinct although weaker binding activity is also detected in normal human sera. The antibodies recognize a common carbohydrate epitope present on mouse laminin, which was assigned to a terminal galactosyl(alpha 1-3)-galactose group. Distinct crossreactions were observed with some other basement membrane proteins, rabbit glycosphingolipids, defucosylated human B blood group substance and components produced by some human tumor cells. Only little activity was, however, found on laminin obtained from human placenta. The data indicate that the antibodies arising in infectious diseases are stimulated by similar carbohydrate epitopes present on the surface of parasites. Tissue-specific occurrence of such epitopes may exist and explain the involvement of distinct tissues in autoimmune disorders.