Astroviruses cause outbreaks of diarrhea in children attending day care centers (DCCs). Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was compared with EIA detection of astrovirus in stool specimens to characterize further the molecular epidemiology of an outbreak of astrovirus-associated gastroenteritis. Three hundred sixty-eight stool specimens collected prospectively from 36 children enrolled in a DCC during an 11-week outbreak of diarrhea were evaluated by EIA and RT-PCR. Astrovirus was detected in 32% of specimens by RT-PCR versus 10% by EIA (P < .001) and in 89% of children by RT-PCR versus 50% by EIA. The median duration of astrovirus excretion episodes detected by EIA was 1.5 days versus 4 days by RT-PCR (P = .06). Astrovirus was excreted for prolonged periods by immunocompetent children during this outbreak. RT-PCR was more sensitive than EIA for detection of astrovirus in stool specimens and redefined the epidemiology of astrovirus infection in this setting.