During two outbreaks of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, 68 children with acute respiratory illnesses were cultured for RSV using a Rhino-Probe (RP) nasal curette and either a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab or a nasal wash (NW). In the first outbreak isolations of RSV by the RP nasal curette and NP swab methods were compared. RSV was cultured from 25 of 42 (60%) subjects using the RP nasal curette and from 20 of 42 (48%) subjects using the NP swab. In the second outbreak the RP nasal curette and the NW collection techniques were compared. RSV was isolated from 15 of 26 (58%) children evaluated. RSV was cultured from 14 of 15 (93%) patients by RP and 13 of 15 (87%) when using NW. In the group of culture-positive subjects, the TESTPACK RSV rapid antigen test was positive in 10 of 15 (67%) using the RP and in 6 of 15 (40%) using the NW. Like the NP swab the RP nasal curette was simple, noninvasive and relatively inexpensive, yet it was as sensitive as the NW for detection of RSV.