Lyme disease is caused by genetically divergent spirochetes, including 3 pathogenic genospecies: Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and B. afzelii. Serodiagnosis is complicated by this genetic diversity. A synthetic peptide (C(6)), based on the 26-mer invariable region (IR(6)) of the variable surface antigen of B. burgdorferi (VlsE), was used as ELISA antigen, to test serum samples collected from mice experimentally infected with the 3 genospecies and from European patients with Lyme disease. Regardless of the infecting strains, mice produced a strong antibody response to C(6), which indicates that IR(6) is antigenically conserved among the pathogenic genospecies. Twenty of 23 patients with culture-confirmed erythema migrans had a detectable antibody response to C(6). A sensitivity of 95.2% was achieved, with serum samples collected from patients with well-defined acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. Fourteen of 20 patients with symptoms of late Lyme disease also had a positive anti-IR(6) ELISA. Thus, it is possible that C(6) may be used to serodiagnose Lyme disease universally.