Botulism is caused by the botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), the most poisonous substance known. Because of the high potency of BoNT, development of diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies for botulism requires antibodies of very high affinity. Here we report the use of yeast mating to affinity mature BoNT antibodies by light chain shuffling. A library of immunoglobulin light chains was generated in a yeast vector where the light chain is secreted. The heavy chain variable region and the first domain of the constant region (V-H-C(H)1) from a monoclonal antibody was cloned into a different yeast vector for surface display as a fusion to the Aga2 protein. Through yeast mating of the two haploid yeasts, a library of light chain-shuffled Fab was created. Using this approach, the affinities of one BoNT/A and two BoNT/B scFv antibody fragments were increased from 9- to more than 77-fold. Subcloning the V-genes from the affinity-matured Fab yielded fully human IgG1 with equilibrium binding constants for BoNT/A and BoNT/B of 2.51 x 10(-11) M or lower for all three monoclonal antibodies. This technique provides a rapid route to antibody affinity maturation.