A rapid cytomegalovirus (CMV) pp65 antigenemia assay with direct erythrocyte lysis (DL) with 0.8% NH4Cl, followed by indirect immunofluorescence staining (IF), was evaluated with 82 blood samples from renal transplant recipients, and the results were compared to those of the conventional antigenemia assay with dextran sedimentation and two-cycle alkaline phosphatase, anti-alkaline phosphatase staining (DS-APAAP). The DL-IF modification gave a higher leukocyte yield compared to DS-APAAP (75.4 versus 54.9%; P < 0.05), with similar leukocyte viability rates of >95%. The DL-IF methodology involved fewer technical steps, and the assay time was shortened from 5 h to less than 3 h. Nineteen of the 82 samples concordantly tested positive for pp65 antigenemia by both assays, and the readings showed a good correlation (r = 0.996; P < 0.01). No discordant results were observed. We conclude that the CMV pp65 antigenemia assay by this novel DL-IF modification is technically simpler, cheaper, and less time-consuming but yields results comparable to those of the conventional DS-APAAP assay. The shortened assay time and increased capacity to handle more samples confer distinct advantages in the rapid diagnosis and prompt treatment of CMV disease in immunosuppressed patients.