Blood from 1053 persons who presented for treatment at outpatient clinics of government health institutions in Sri Lanka, and 250 who took part in a blood survey for malaria, was examined by thick blood film microscopy under routine field conditions, and by the ParaSight-F dipstick method. All the samples were also examined microscopically under laboratory conditions when 4 times the number of microscope fields were examined. Compared with this reference standard, the sensitivity and specificity of the ParaSight-F test were 90.2% and 99.1%, and those of microscopy in the field were 92.4% and 98.4% respectively, there being no statistically significant difference between the 2 methods. The ParaSight-F test reading correlated significantly and positively with the intensity of clinical disease of patients but not with their peripheral parasitaemia, indicating that it may be a more accurate measure of the true parasite load than microscopy, which detects only parasites which are in the peripheral blood and not those which are sequestered in deep organs. The ParaSight-F test, however, failed to detect Plasmodium falciparum infections with only gametocytes in the blood (19.6% of the infected blood samples in this study). The time taken for a patient to revert to negativity by the ParaSight-F test was also significantly longer, up to 14 d. This would make the test unsuitable for checking the response to antimalarial treatment within 14 d. In an endemic area it would therefore fail to detect drug resistant populations of parasites.