Low plasma IgA concentrations are commonly found in clinically normal dogs. In order to ascertain the relative importance of local and systemic IgA concentrations as factors determining the absence of clinical signs, IgA concentrations in plasma and tears were assayed in clinically normal dogs with a deficiency of IgA (10.33 +/- 0.63 mg/dl). The IgA levels in tears (25.28 +/- 1.91 mg/dl) did not differ significantly from those of control dogs or from previously published data for dogs. Thus, low systemic levels did not imply a significant reduction in local IgA levels. The absence of clinical signs in dogs with low plasma IgA concentrations may therefore be explained by the presence of normal secretory levels and an effective immune response against local pathogens.