Forty-two parents of children with autistic disorder, 15 children with autistic disorder, 17 siblings of children with autistic disorder, and 12 unrelated normal adult controls were studied to determine if immunoglobulins isolated from their plasma would inhibit binding of the 5HT1A agonist, [3H]-8-hydroxy-N,N-dipropyl-2-aminotetralin (DPAT) to 5HT1A receptors in human hippocampal membranes. There were no significant differences among the means of percentage inhibition of DPAT binding of parents, children with autistic disorder, siblings, or unrelated controls. In addition, there were no differences in the proportion of subjects with > 15% DPAT inhibition among autistic children, their parents, their siblings, or unrelated controls. Immunoglobulin inhibition was not specific for the 5HT1A receptor binding site, since immunoglobulins inhibited binding to 5HT2, D1, D2, and alpha 2-adrenergic binding sites. The immunoglobulins isolated from normal controls inhibited [3H]-rauwolscine binding at alpha 2-adrenergic sites less than immunoglobulins of children with autistic disorder and their parents and siblings. This study did not support the hypothesis that autoantibodies to 5HT1A or 5HT2 receptors are characteristic of autistic disorder.