The hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) assay is a classical laboratory procedure for the classification or subtyping of hemagglutinating viruses. For the avian influenza (AI) virus, the HI assay is used to identify the hemagglutinin (H) subtype of an unknown AI virus isolate or the HA subtype specificity of antibodies to AI virus. Since the HI assay is quantitative, it is frequently applied to evaluate the antigenic relationships between different AI virus isolates of the same subtype. The basis of the HI test is inhibition of hemagglutination with subtype-specific antibodies. The HI assay is a relatively inexpensive procedure utilizing standard laboratory equipment, is less technical than molecular tests, and is easily completed within several hours. However, when working with uncharacterized viruses or antibody subtypes, the library of reference reagents required for identifying antigentically distinct AI viruses and/or antibody specificities from multiple lineages of a single hemagglutinin subtype requires extensive laboratory support for the production and optimization of reagents.