BACKGROUND: Thirteen proteins of natural rubber latex (Hevea brasiliensis) known to bind human IgE have been isolated and characterized as Hev b allergens. However, the in vivo importance of native Hev b allergens has not been defined in health care workers (HCWs) with natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy. OBJECTIVES: The principal aim of this study was to identify the major in vivo Hev b allergens in HCWs with NRL allergy confirmed by percutaneous sensitivity to nonammoniated latex (NAL). METHODS: Skin prick testing was performed with 7 (native) proteins purified from NAL (Hev b 1, 2, 3, 4, 6.01, 7.01, and a newly described Hev b 13) and recombinant Hev b 5 in 62 HCWs with histories of NRL allergy (group 1) confirmed by percutaneous reactivity to NAL and in 49 atopic HCWs without NRL allergy (group 2). Serial 10-fold concentrations of Hev b proteins (5 x 10(-5) microg/mL to 50 microg/mL) were tested; serum samples of subjects were assayed for serum specific IgE by immunoassays. RESULTS: Hev b 2, Hev b 5, Hev b 6.01, and Hev b 13 produced skin reactions in more than 60% of group 1 subjects, with Hev b 1, 3, 4, and 7.01 eliciting reactions in less than 50%. Only 1 of 49 group 2 workers reacted to a single Hev b antigen (Hev b 13). Specificity of 7 Hev b allergens was 100% and 98% for Hev b 13 in identifying workers with confirmed NRL allergy. Specific IgE by AlaSTAT and CAP immunoassays was elevated in 40 of 60 (67%) and 33 of 62 (53%) of NAL-reactive workers and produced false-positive test results in 4 of 49 (8%) and 3 of 48 (6%) group 2 subjects, respectively. CONCLUSION: Hev b 2, 5, and 6.01 are major in vivo allergens and Hev b 13 is a new major in vivo allergen among HCWs with allergy to NRL.