Direct diagnosis of mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP) is not easy. Circulating autoantibodies targeting bullous pemphigoid antigens of 180 kDa and 230 kDa (BP180 and BP230), α6β4 integrin, laminin 332 and type VII collagen (Col VII) are not always present. The aims of this study were to characterize the humoral immune response of a cohort of Italian patients with MMP, its association with clinical involvement and severity, and to design an algorithm for efficient serological diagnosis. Seventy-eight MMP sera were studied retrospectively by indirect immunofluorescence on salt-split skin, enzymelinked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immunoblotting. Indirect immunofluorescence on salt-split skin resulted in the most sensitive approach for diagnosis of MMP. BP180 was the major autoantigen in MMP patients with oral and cutaneous involvement. Significant associations were found between BP180 reactivity and oral and cutaneous localization of the lesions (p = 0.006), and between Col VII positivity and Setterfield severity score (p = 0.020). © 2016 The Authors.