The immune response to Mycobacterium bovis in cattle was assessed by Western blot. The antibody recognition pattern to M. bovis whole cell extracts and culture supernatant antigens was studied by using sera from M. bovis-infected (n = 62) and healthy (n = 38) cattle. Although the recognition patterns were highly variable, some proteins were regularly detected, mainly those with molecular masses of 17, 23, 28, 42, 66, 71 and 80 kDa in cellular extracts, and with molecular masses of 23 and 33 kDa in supernatants. Whole cell extract antigens were more frequently recognized than culture supernatant antigens. Healthy controls produced only a weak antibody response. The antibody response was variable, depending on tuberculosis stage. In early stages very few antibodies were detected. A response against the 66-kDa stress protein was mounted in intermediate tuberculosis and remained stable in more advanced disease. In late diseases, the preferentially recognized antigens were a 28-kDa cellular protein and supernatant antigens. The 28-kDa protein was studied in some detail. As determined by using monoclonal antibodies, the 28-kDa protein is different from superoxide dismutase. This protein aggregated in stored cell extracts and was not totally transferred to nitrocellulose. The principal conclusions of this work are: (i) whole cell extract proteins are more frequently recognized than the secreted proteins and (ii) a 28-kDa protein is a major antigen in late disease.