In the present study, a collection of 415 water buffalo serum samples originating from the north of Vietnam was used for evaluation of different diagnostic antibody detection methods available to detect infections with Trypanosoma evansi. The diagnostic sensitivity and speci- ficity of a direct card agglutination test (CATT/T evansi), an indirect card agglutination test (LATEX/T evansi) and a newly developed antibody detection ELISA (ELISA/T evansi) was calculated on the basis of parasitological results, obtained by mouse inoculation, and compared for all assays. The immume trypanolysis assay with the predominant T. evansi RoTat 1.2 variable antigen type was used as reference test for antibody presence. All parasitologically confirmed animals (n=8) were positive in all tests. Diagnostic specificity was highest in CATT/ T. evansi (98%) followed by the ELISA/T evansi (95%) and the LATEX/T. evansi (82%). Concordance of the variant specific immune trypanolysis test with the other tests was calculated and revealed that few (1-8%) false positive results were actually due to a specific reactions, and that LATEX/T. evansi and ELISA/T. evansi detected more immune trypanolysis positives than the CATT/T: evansi. It was concluded that, apart from the immune trypanolysis test, which is not generally applicable, ELISA/T. evansi with a 30% positivity cut-off and LATEX/. evansi, thanks to their superior capacity of detecting T. evansi specific antibodies, would be suitable as epidemiological tools detecting both active infections and persisting T. evansi specific antibodies. The ELISA/T. evansi with a 50% positivity cut-off and the CATT/T. evansi on the other hand, seem more appropriate to detect true infected water buffaloes. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.