We developed an in vitro assay showing that Borrelia burgdorferi organisms were killed by serum from patients with Lyme disease. Twenty of 20 Lyme disease serum samples caused B. burgdorferi killing in a range of 36 to 99% compared with the mean number of viable spirochetes when sera from 10 healthy individuals were used. The percentage of killing of B. burgdorferi increased with convalescent serum from patients with early Lyme disease. The borreliacidal activity was detectable in some sera diluted 640-fold and was abrogated after treatment with anti-human immunoglobulin G. In contrast, pooled or individual normal human serum did not cause a decrease in the number of viable B. burgdorferi. Borreliacidal activity was also not detected in sera from patients with relapsing fever, rocky mountain spotted fever, syphilis, mononucleosis, rheumatoid factor, or DNA antibodies. Our results show that borreliacidal activity can be used as a specific serodiagnostic test for detecting Lyme disease.