The recombinant product (rK39) of the 39 amino acid repeats encoded by a kinesin-like gene of visceral Leishmania spp. was further evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for its diagnostic potential in Indian kala-azar (VL) and post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL). Anti-rK39 antibodies were highly positive in 20 symptomatic cases, including 6 resistant to single or double chemotherapy, but became negligible or absent in 9 recently cured patients. Endpoint titration of samples from the 20 active cases showed that the anti-rK39 IgG titers fell within a wide range of 10(-2) to > 10(-6), and that their mean was > 1 order of magnitude higher than in VL reported previously. The anti-rK39 IgG titers were correlated with parasite burden found in the patients and remained undiminished in those refractory to chemotherapy. These results indicate that: (1) the K39 epitope is conserved in Indian strains of Leishmania donovani, (2) the extremely high levels of K39 antibodies in both VL and PKDL suggest the application of rK39 for sensitive and specific serodiagnosis, and (3) rK39 ELISA is also valuable for prognostic evaluation of both diseases.