A monoclonal antibody (mab) against the antimicrobial sulfamethazine was prepared and characterized by an indirect competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (IC-ELISA). Sulfamethazine in the range of 0.2 and 45 ng/ml could be determined with the mab by IC-ELISA. cDNAs encoding a variable heavy chain and variable light chain of the mab were cloned to produce recombinant antibodies using phage display technology. Following phage rescue and three rounds of panning, a single-chain variable fragment (scFv) antibody with high sulfamethazine-binding affinity was obtained. ELISA analysis revealed that scFv antibody and parent mab showed similar, but not identical, characteristics. The IC50 value by IC-ELISA with scFv antibody was 4.8 ng/ml, compared with 1.6 ng/ml with the parent mab. Performances of the assays in the presence of milk matrix were compared; the mab-based assay was less affected than the scFv-based assay. Sixty milk samples were analyzed by mab-based IC-ELISA, and four samples were sulfamethazine positive; these results were favorably correlated with those obtained by HPLC.