A commercial enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for the rapid detection of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in respiratory secretions was evaluated by comparison with both virus isolation in HEp-2 cells and indirect immunofluorescence (IFA) staining of exfoliated respiratory cells. Initial examination of 80 nasopharyngeal aspirates collected from infants with acute respiratory illness showed that the RSV EIA was positive for 21 of 24 specimens positive by virus isolation or IFA (87.5% sensitivity) and negative for 53 of 56 specimens negative by virus isolation and IFA (95% specificity). The EIA appears to be an acceptable and more rapid test than virus isolation for the detection of RSV, especially for laboratories in which prompt inoculation of specimens is not always possible. IFA staining with commercial bovine anti-RSV serum was found to be the most sensitive and rapid test for the detection of RSV. However, three of four specimens positive by IFA and negative by virus isolation were not cultured under optimal conditions. In addition, the IFA test requires a highly trained technologist to interpret the staining results.