We developed a direct enzyme immunoassay [EIA; Enzygnost Influenza A(Ag) and Enzygnost Influenza B(Ag)] for the direct detection of influenza A and B virus antigens in nasopharyngeal secretion specimens (NPS). The test is performed without sonification of specimens, and results are obtained within 4 h. A direct comparison between direct EIA and quantitation of virus shedding for influenza A and B virus antigen detection was carried out. A total of 210 NPS and 98 nasopharyngeal wash specimens (NPW) were investigated. We isolated influenza A viruses from 79 (37.6%) of 210 NPS; of these 79 cell-culture-positive NPS, 70 (88.6%) were also positive by direct EIA. Of 29 (13.8%) NPS from which influenza B virus was isolated, 24 (82.8%) NPS were positive by direct EIA. Virus shedding was determined quantitatively in 48 NPS from patients with influenza A and in 24 NPS from patients with influenza B. Only a crude correlation between optical density values and virus concentrations was observed. Detection of influenza virus antigens in NPS by direct EIA showed sensitivities of 89.7% for influenza A virus and 87.9% for influenza B virus and specificities of 99.3% for influenza A virus and 100% for influenza B virus. With direct EIA, all NPW were negative for influenza A virus, although virus was isolated from 21 (21.4%) NPW. Of 15 NPW from which influenza B virus was isolated, 7 showed positive results in direct EIA. In addition, direct EIA is suitable for detecting influenza A and B viruses in cell cultures before the appearance of any cytopathic effects and can be used as a cell culture confirmation test.