In order to improve the surveillance of serogroup B and C meningococcal diseases, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) specific for anti-B immunoglobulin M (IgM) and anti-C IgM and IgG antibodies were developed. The tests were evaluated by using paired sera from 122 patients with and 101 patients without laboratory evidence of meningococcal disease. Fifty-three of 67 patients (79%) with culture-confirmed serogroup B disease had an anti-B IgM antibody response; anti-B IgM levels waned rapidly in children < or = 4 years of age. Twenty-four of 25 patients (96%) with culture-confirmed serogroup C disease had an anti-C IgM and/or IgG antibody response (IgM, 92%; IgG, 68%). In patients without evidence of meningococcal disease, 19% of children < or = 4 years of age and 69% of those > 4 years of age had intermediate anti-B IgM titers. In contrast, only 1 and 5% of these patients had intermediate titers of anti-C IgM and anti-C IgG, respectively. The ELISAs were shown to be powerful tools for discriminating between serogroup B and C diseases in 96 to 100% of culture-confirmed cases. For 90% of patients with culture-negative meningococcal disease, a serogroup-specific diagnosis could be established by examination of paired sera in the ELISAs. As serogroup B and C meningococci account for practically all cases of meningococcal disease in industrialized countries, the availability of these tests may improve surveillance and prevention.