An absorbed enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test for Johne's disease in cattle was developed in which absorption of cross-reacting antibodies occurred as a rapid reaction in solution rather than overnight with whole organisms and a subsequent centrifugation step. Total test time was reduced to less than 2 h with a minimum of manipulations. The test was evaluated in cattle herds from Johne's disease-endemic and Johne's disease-free regions of Australia. Specificity was 99.8%. Calculations of sensitivity were affected by the history of the herd under test. However, the EIA detected in excess of 80% of animals before onset of clinical disease and 65% of faecal shedders were EIA positive on, or before, first detection of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in their faeces. The test should aid epidemiological studies and be a useful tool in the management and control of Johne's disease.