The inflammatory myopathies are putative autoimmune disorders characterized by muscle weakness and the presence of intramuscular inflammatory infiltrates. Although inclusion body myositis and polymyositis have been characterized as cytotoxic CD8+ T cell-mediated diseases, we recently demonstrated high frequencies of CD138+ plasma cells in the inflamed muscle tissue of patients with these diseases. To gain a deeper understanding of the role these B cell family members play in the disease pathology, we examined the molecular characteristics of the H chain portion of the Ag receptor. Biopsies of muscle tissue were sectioned and tissue regions and individual cells were isolated through laser capture microdissection. Ig H chain gene transcripts isolated from the sections, regions, and cells were used to determine the variable region gene sequences. Analysis of these sequences revealed clear evidence of affinity maturation in that significant somatic mutation, isotype switching, receptor revision, codon insertion/deletion, and oligoclonal expansion had occurred within the B and plasma cell populations. Moreover, analysis of tissue regions isolated by laser capture microdissection revealed both clonal expansion and variation, suggesting that local B cell maturation occurs within muscle. In contrast, sequences from control muscle tissues and peripheral blood revealed none of these characteristics found in inflammatory myopathy muscle tissue. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Ag drives a B cell Ag-specific response in muscle in patients with dermatomyositis, inclusion body myositis, and polymyositis. These findings highlight the need for a revision of the current paradigm of exclusively T cell-mediated intramuscular Ag-specific autoimmunity in inclusion body myositis and polymyositis.