Cicatricial pemphigoid is an autoimmune subepidermal blistering disease of the skin and mucous membranes. We report on eight patients in whom the clinical diagnosis was confirmed by direct immunofluorescence. The patients' age averaged 69 years; seven were female and one male. Initial symptoms were erosions of the oral mucous membranes in four patients, skin blisters in three patients, and in one patient an ocular involvement was the first manifestation of the disease. Indirect immunofluorescence on NaCl-split human skin revealed circulating IgG antibodies binding to the roof of the artificial blister in three patients. Immunoblotting of epidermal and dermal extracts disclosed binding of IgG antibodies of one of these patients to an epidermal 230-kD protein, whereas IgA-antibodies showed no specific binding. In four of five patients with a strong ocular involvement IgA deposits were found by direct immunofluorescence. These studies were done on biopsies of perilesional skin or oral mucous membranes, and they were positive in one patient even before the first ocular lesions appeared. Therefore, finding of IgA deposits by direct immunofluorescence may be taken as a prognostic criterion allowing selection of the proper treatment. We treated six patients with a dexamethasone-cyclophosphamide pulse therapy, while two patients received dapsone orally. The involvement of skin and oral mucous membrane responded well to both regimens, whereas the ocular lesions were progressive, except in one patient. On the basis of our eight cases, we discuss both options and limitations in the treatment of cicatricial pemphigoid and review new aspects of the pathogenesis of this disease.