We report two men with limbic encephalitis (LE) refractory to corticosteroids, Wig and plasma exchange. Both patients had serum/CSF antibodies that reacted with the cytoplasm of neurons. Probing of a hippocampal cDNA library resulted in the isolation of adenylate kinase 5 (AK5). Patients' antibodies, but not those of 111 controls, recognized AK5-expressing phage plaques. Human AK5-affinity purified antibodies reproduced the neuronal immunolabeling of patients' antibodies, and co-localized with a rabbit AK5 antibody, confirming that the brain autoantigen was AK5. Detection of antibodies to AK5 in LE patients carries a poor prognosis, and suggests the prompt use of aggressive immunosuppression. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.