Simple diagnostic tests are needed for the detection of norovirus (NoV) outbreaks. Salivary antibody assays provide an attractive alternative to collecting and testing serum or stool samples. Antibodies to Norwalk virus (NV) in oral fluid samples were compared with NV antibodies in serum collected from 38 volunteers challenged with NV inoculum. Pre- and postchallenge (day 4, 8, 14, and 21) saliva and serum samples were examined by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) using recombinant NV antigen. Of 18 infected subjects (those who shed NV in stool or who demonstrated immunoglobulin G [IgG] seroconversion), 15 (83%) had > or =4-fold increases in NV-specific salivary IgA and 15 (83%) had > or =4-fold increases in NV-specific salivary IgG when prechallenge and postchallenge saliva samples were compared. When the results of the IgA and IgG assays were combined, all 18 infected subjects showed > or =4-fold increases in NV-specific salivary IgG or IgA postchallenge titers compared to their prechallenge titers. One of 19 uninfected subjects had a > or =4-fold increase in NV-specific salivary IgG. The sensitivity of the combined assay results was 100%, and the specificity was 95%. NV-specific salivary IgA titers peaked around 14 days postchallenge. NV-specific salivary IgG and serum IgG titers continued to rise through 21 days postchallenge. The application of this EIA to an elementary school outbreak indicated that 67% of the subjects with confirmed infections had >4-fold rises in anti-NoV IgA when an antigen in the same genetic cluster as the outbreak virus was used. This is the first documented mucosal antibody response to NoV in children. This EIA provides a useful approach for diagnosing NoV outbreaks.