AIMS--To compare the novel Serofast latex agglutination test (International Mycoplasma, Toulon-Cedex, France) with the complement fixation test and enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for diagnosing acute Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection. METHODS--Paired sera from 60 patients with respiratory infection who had tested positive for M pneumoniae by complement fixation test were analysed with Serofast and indirect EIA for specific IgG and IgM antibodies. RESULTS--Serofast was less sensitive than the two other tests. Only 30 (50%) out of 60 paired sera which showed a diagnostic seroconversion or had high positive, unchanged antibody titres by complement fixation test or EIA, or both, tested positive with Serofast. Positive test results with Serofast were associated with the presence of a complement fixation test titre of > or = 512 and high positive IgM antibody titres measurable by EIA; virtually all patients with a complement fixation test titre of < 256 or those responding primarily in the IgG class tested negative with Serofast. Based on analysis of sera taken at the acute phase of infection, 10 (17%) of the 60 patients tested positive by complement fixation test, 10 (17%) by EIA, and only four (7%) by Serofast. CONCLUSIONS--Serofast was less sensitive than complement fixation test and EIA and it cannot be recommended as a replacement for either test in routine diagnostic use. It might prove useful in laboratories where non-specific tests, such as the determination of cold agglutinins, are still used for the diagnosis of M pneumoniae infection. Testing paired sera is, however, a prerequisite for obtaining acceptable sensitivity by Serofast as well as other serological methods currently available.