Abstract Several new methods of malaria diagnosis have recently been developed, but these all rely on clinical suspicion and, consequently, an explicit clinical request. Although some methods lend themselves to automation (eg. PCR), no technique can yet be used for routine clinical automated screening. Detection of birefringent haemozoin has been used to diagnose malaria since the turn of the 20th century. A new generation of full blood count analysers, used widely in clinical laboratories, have the potential to detect haemozoin in white blood cells and probably erythrocytes. Thomas Hänscheid, Emilia Valadas and Martin Grobusch here describe this novel technique for malaria diagnosis and discuss its potential applications.