A technique has been developed for the affinity purification of antibodies recognizing cloned antigens of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum expressed in bacteria. Adsorbents prepared by coupling bacterial lysates to Sepharose were used to isolate monospecific antibodies from human immune sera. Production of an abundant stable fused polypeptide by the bacteria was not a prerequisite for the success of this approach. Also the procedure permits the characterization of antigens which elicit the production of very low levels of antibodies. Affinity-purified human antibodies were used to characterized the corresponding P. falciparum antigens by immunoblotting and a number of antigens identified in this way illustrate some commonly observed features of P. falciparum antigens. Several of these antibody preparations recognized multiple bands in the electrophoretic patterns. Studies on a number of isolates of P. falciparum indicate that many antigens exhibit size polymorphisms. Production of some antigens was shown to be restricted to particular stages of the asexual blood cycle of the parasite while others appear to be specifically processed during the life cycle. Affinity-purified antibodies have also been used to locate antigens within the infected erythrocyte and to delineate subsets of antibodies recognizing different epitopes of a single antigen.