We assessed the performance characteristics of two rK39 immunochromatographic tests, a direct agglutination test (DAT), and an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT) in the site of a new epidemic of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in northwestern Ethiopia. The study population was composed of 179 patients with suspected VL and 67 controls. The sensitivities of Kalazar Detect(®), DiaMed-IT Leish(®), DAT, and IFAT in 35 polymerase chain reaction-confirmed VL cases were 94.3%, 91.4%, 91.4%, and 100%, respectively, and the specificities were 98.5%, 94%, 98.5%, and 98.5%, respectively. In a Bayesian latent class analysis of all 246 specimens, the estimated sensitivities were 90.5%, 89%, 88.8%, and 96% for Kalazar Detect(®), DiaMed-IT Leish(®), DAT, and IFAT, respectively; DAT showed the highest estimated specificity (97.4%). Both rK39 immunochromatographic tests perform as well as DAT, and are suitable for VL diagnosis in first-level health centers in this area of Ethiopia.