Anti-proteinase 3 antibodies are implicated in the pathogenesis of small vessel vasculitis. These are primarily immunoglobulin G (IgG), with different subclasses predominating at different stages of disease. However, little is known of their respective roles in pathogenesis. We have previously shown that patient IgG4 was able to induce superoxide release from human neutrophils. To circumvent difficulties in separating the subclasses and additional differences in polyclonal patient antibodies we have generated monoclonal mouse/human IgG1 and IgG4 anti-proteinase 3 antibodies. Using these antibodies we have compared effects of IgG1 and IgG4 on human neutrophils in terms of superoxide release, cytokine production, degranulation and adhesion. Additionally we have investigated the interaction of the subclasses with Fc receptors expressed by the neutrophil. Chimeric antibodies were generated using human constant regions of each subclass and a variable region taken from a monoclonal antibody directed against proteinase 3. Superoxide release from neutrophils was measured by the reduction of ferricytochrome C, degranulation by the conversion of a synthetic colour substrate, cytokine release by interleukin-8 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and adhesion by a flow-based adhesion assay. Fc receptor binding was assessed using blocking antibodies. The IgG4 anti-proteinase 3 was able to induce a dose-dependent release of superoxide, degranulation and adhesion. The antibody was not able to stimulate the secretion of interleukin-8. Fc receptors were essential for neutrophil stimulation and the constitutive Fc receptors were necessary for different stimulatory pathways. The IgG4 anti-proteinase 3 antibodies are able to stimulate neutrophils to undergo a pro-inflammatory response and may play a role in the pathogenesis of small vessel vasculitis.