The antibody levels to viral capsid antigen (VCA) and early antigen (EA) of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in 164 nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients from Sarawak, East Malaysia were significantly higher than those in 147 sex, age and ethnically matched healthy controls. As diagnostic markers of NPC, IgG/VCA at reciprocal titers > or =160 was the most sensitive (89%, with 98% specificity), while IgA/EA at > or =5 was the most specific (100%) but the least sensitive (75%). The sensitivity and specificity of IgA/VCA at reciprocal titers > or =10 were 84% and 97%. IgA/VCA has an advantage over IgG/VCA despite the slightly lower sensitivity due to its consistently more distinct fluorescence reaction. The sensitivity and specificity can be marginally improved by a combination of two tests.