There is a need, in many developing countries, for simple and inexpensive HIV serology tests for use at the district level of health care. The Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health has developed a simple dipstick ELISA to detect antibodies to HIV-1 and 2, at a cost considerably lower than current ELISAs, which requires no specialized washing or reading equipment. In order to evaluate this dipstick under local conditions we used a panel of 546 sera selected from frozen stocks maintained by the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention Project in Harare, Zimbabwe. Prior to storage, the sera had been tested by Abbott recombinant peptide HIV-1 and 2 ELISA and Enzygnost synthetic peptide HIV-1 and 2 ELISA. The panel included sera that were positive by both (including symptomatics and asymptomatics), negative by both, and sera showing discrepant test results. The panel was not representative of a "normal' batch of sera in Zimbabwe, and in particular included an abnormally high number of sera showing discrepant results. Thawed sera were retested using the Abbott recombinant peptide HIV-1 and 2 ELISA and concurrently with the synthetic peptide ICL-Dipstick ELISA. Both the sensitivity and specificity of the ICL Dipstick exceeded 99% when using sera that were positive or negative in all 3 plate ELISAs as the gold standard. When using sera that gave discrepant results between the two pre-storage ELISAs, most results with the ICL Dipstick concurred with findings from other test systems, including Western blot and p24 antigen detection. Considering the accuracy, low cost and case of operation of the ICL Dipstick ELISA, this test can be recommended for use for the rapid detection of antibodies to HIV at district level in developing countries.