Autoantibody against phospholipase A2 receptor (anti-PLA2R) is a sensitive and specific biomarker of idiopathic membranous nephropathy (iMN), being found in approximately 70% of iMN patients and only occasionally in other glomerular diseases. However, whereas its diagnostic specificity vs. normal controls and other glomerulonephritides (GN) has been firmly established, its specificity vs. membranous nephropathy associated with various diseases (sMN) has given inconsistent results. The aim of our study was to evaluate the prevalence of anti-PLA2R antibodies in iMN in comparison with various control groups, including sMN. A total of 252 consecutive iMN patients, 184 pathological and 43 healthy controls were tested for anti-PLA2R antibody using indirect immunofluorescence (PLA2R IIFT, Euroimmun). Anti-PLA2R autoantibodies were detectable in 178/252 iMN patients, 1/80 primary GN, 0/72 secondary GN, 9/32 sMN and 0/43 healthy controls, with a diagnostic sensitivity of 70.6%. The diagnostic specificity of anti-PLA2R antibody vs. normal and pathological controls was 100 and 94.6% respectively. However, when the diagnostic specificity was calculated only vs. secondary forms of MN, it decreased considerably to 71.9%. Interestingly enough, 9 out of 10 anti-PLA2R positive patients in the disease control groups had membranous nephropathy associated with various diseases (7 cancer, 1 Crohn's disease, 1 scleroderma). In conclusion, anti-PLA2R positivity in a patient with MN, should not be considered sufficient to abstain from seeking a secondary cause, especially in patients with risk factors for neoplasia. The causal relationship between tumors and anti-PLA2R-induced MN remains to be established, as well as the possible mechanisms through which malignancies provoke autoimmunity.