Nucleic acid amplification techniques are used for signal generation in antibody-based immunoassays, thereby dramatically enhancing the sensitivity of conventional immunoassays. Methodological aspects, as well as applications of this novel approach, are summarized in this review, with an emphasis on immuno-polymerase chain reaction (IPCR). IPCR is based on chimeric conjugates of specific antibodies and nucleic acid molecules, the latter of which are used as markers to be amplified by PCR for signal generation. The enormous efficiency of nucleic acid amplification typically leads to a 100-10,000-fold increase in sensitivity, as compared with the analogous enzyme-amplified immunoassay. The evolution of IPCR included the development of efficient reagents, the design of assay formats and the maintenance of functionality, even within complex biological matrices. Eventually, IPCR crossed the border from being a research method to a routine laboratory technique, enabling a broad range of applications in immunological research and clinical diagnostics.