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The serodiagnosis of early Lyme disease has been plagued with problems of sensitivity and specificity. We found that the flow-cytometric borreliacidal-antibody test had a sensitivity of 72% for the detection of patients with early Lyme disease. By contrast, the sensitivity of the enzyme immunofluorescence assay was 28%. The enhanced sensitivity of the borreliacidal-antibody test was due to the use of Borrelia burgdorferi 50772, which lacks OspA and OspB. When B. burgdorferi 297, which expresses both OspA and OspB, was used, the sensitivity of the borreliacidal-antibody test was 15%. Our results also showed that the borreliacidal-antibody test was specific. No borreliacidal activity was detected in normal sera or in sera from patients with mononucleosis, rheumatoid factor, or syphilis. These results demonstrate that the flow-cytometric borreliacidal-antibody test may be the laboratory "gold standard" for the serodiagnosis of Lyme disease.