BACKGROUND: The enteric subgroup F adenoviruses type 40 (Ad40) and 41 (Ad41) are the second most important cause of acute infantile gastroenteritis after rotaviruses. Repeated community outbreaks have been associated with antigenic changes among the Ad40 and Ad41 strains due to host immune pressure. Therefore large field epidemiological surveys and studies on the genetic variations in different isolates of Ad40 and Ad41 are important for disease control programs, the design of efficient diagnostic kits and vaccines against subgroup F adenoviruses. A novel method using sodium dodecyl sulphate SDS/EDTA-pretreated chromatography paper strips was evaluated for the collection, storage and shipping of Ad40/41 contaminated stool samples. RESULTS: This study shows that adenoviral DNA can be successfully detected in the filter strips by PCR after four months storage at -20 degrees C, 4 degrees C, room temperature (20-25 degrees C) and 37 degrees C. Furthermore no adenoviral infectivity was observed upon contact with the SDS/EDTA-pretreated strips. CONCLUSIONS: Collecting, storing and transporting adenovirus type 40 and 41 positive stool samples on SDS/EDTA-pretreated chromatography filter strips is a convenient, biosafe and cost effective method for studying new genome variants and monitoring spread of enteric adenovirus strains during outbreaks.