The Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen 85 is a biologically important antigen. Tuberculosis patients may have strong antibodies against it, and their peripheral blood mononuclear cells respond to it with gamma-interferon production and lymphocyte proliferation. Antigen 85 is actively secreted into the culture medium during culture in vitro and is known to bind human fibronectin. A double-antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for quantification of antigen 85 is described. A mouse monoclonal antibody, HYT27, was used as capture antibody in the assay. HYT27 was characterized in crossed immunoelectrophoresis and found to bind all three components of the antigen 85 complex. By radioimmunoassay, HYT27 was found to bind equally well to antigens 85A and 85B. In the ELISA assay, a rabbit anti-antigen 85 antiserum was used in the second antibody layer. The specificity of the assay was tested using several different antigen preparations. The purified BCG 85A and 85B components were compared, and there was a 10 times lower sensitivity for antigen 85A due to weaker rabbit antibodies toward this component. The purified components MPT44 and MPT59 from M. tuberculosis H37Rv were compared with the components of BCG and found to correspond to BCG 85A and 85B, respectively. Mycobacterium kansasii and Mycobacterium avium both contained partially identical antigens. Small amounts of antigen 85 were detected in Mycobacterium leprae sonicates. Detecting antigen 85 by sensitive methods may be of great value in the early diagnosis of mycobacterial disease.