Abstract An antigen from Angiostrongylus cantonensis fifth-stage larvae was purified by immuno-affinity chromatography with a specific monoclonal antibody. The purified antigen showed only a single band with a molecular weight of 204 kD in SDS–PAGE, and no cross-reactivity to antibodies induced by several other species of helminths were observed in ELISA. When the purified antigen was used to examine serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens by ELISA, the antibody levels in patients with eosinophilic meningitis or meningoencephalitis (EME) were significantly higher than those of control subjects. The antibody levels in serum were slightly higher than those in CSF, and the levels in serum were positively correlated with the levels in CSF. The reliability in detection of antibodies in serum was slightly higher than that in the detection of antibodies in CSF specimens. The purification of a specific A. cantonensis antigen and its subsequent use in the development of an ELISA for detection of A. cantonensis specific antibodies in serum specimens constitute an important step towards improvement in the accuracy of diagnosis for A. cantonensis infections.