A simple dot blot screening test for anti-HIV-1 IgA in infant sera was developed using recombinant HIV proteins. Ten control infants, 19 uninfected infants of seropositive mothers and 12 HIV culture positive infants were studied at 3 month and 18 month time points. Prior to IgG depletion of the serum samples, 11/12 (92%) of the infected infants, 2/19 (11%) of the uninfected and none of the control infants were anti-HIV IgA positive at 3 months of age. After depletion, no anti-HIV IgA antibodies could be detected in the samples from uninfected infants, whereas the antibodies persisted in all 11 samples from the infected infants, resulting in sensitivity and specificity of 91.7% (95% confidence limits 59.8-99.6%) and 100% (79.1-100%) respectively. The assay might prove useful in the early diagnosis of HIV infection and can be performed at a fraction of the cost of commercially available western blot strips.