Natural IgM antibodies (Abs) play an important role in clearing pathogens, enhancing immune responses, and preventing autoimmunity. However, the molecular mechanisms that mediate the functions of natural IgM Abs are understood only to a limited degree. This shortcoming is largely due to the fact that isolated natural IgM Abs are commonly polyspecific and recognize a variety of antigens (Ags) with no apparent structural homology. It is generally believed that polyspecificity is an inherent property of natural Abs. However, there is increasing evidence that polyspecificity may be induced by mild denaturing conditions. In this study, we compared the specificity of three polyspecific IgM Abs in conventional buffers and undiluted sera deficient in immunoglobulins. All three Abs lost their polyspecificity in serum. They no longer reacted with conventional screening Ags, including hapten-BSA conjugates, ssDNA, thyroglobulin and myosin, but fully retained their reactivity with cognate peptide Ags selected from a T7 phage library. The acquisition of narrow specificity by polyspecific IgM in serum was also observed with muscle tissue sections used as a source of endogenous Ags. The loss of polyspecificity by different Abs was apparently dependent on the presence of different serum constituents. The results of this study suggest that the seemingly inherent polyspecificity of many natural IgM Abs may be largely an in vitro phenomenon related to the lack of normal serum components in the medium. Potential mechanisms underlying the loss of polyreactivity are discussed.