The discovery in 2009 of the M-type phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R) as the primary target in membranous nephropathy (MN) greatly advanced basic and clinical research. Primary MN is now considered a renal-limited autoimmune disease, with antibodies against PLA2R (aPLA2Rab) identified in 70-80 % of patients of various ethnic groups. Although the use of aPLA2Rab as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker is now widely accepted, many questions related to the development of the auto-immune response, the role of IgG subclasses and antigenic epitopes, and the pathways to podocyte injury remain unresolved. PLA2R-associated MN most likely develops governed by factors such as genetic susceptibility, loss of tolerance, alterations in antigen expression with a role for environmental factors like air pollution, smoking, and infections. More detailed knowledge of genetic factors, the relevant B- and T-cell epitopes, and the mechanisms of podocyte injury is needed to identify patients at risk for disease progression and to develop optimized, targeted treatment strategies. In this review we highlight unresolved issues, addressing initiation of antibody formation, the timeline of antibody production, the role of IgG subclass, and the pathogenicity of the antibodies in concert with complement to produce glomerular pathology and proteinuria.