We investigated the performance of a double-antigen sandwich recombinant enzyme immunoassay (EIA; Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Ill.) and compared it with that of a synthetic-peptide-based EIA (Biochem Immunosystems, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) for the detection of human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) and HIV-2 antibodies in 2,321 clinical serum samples. The results of both EIA methods and Western blot (immunoblot) were in agreement for 1,046 HIV-1 and 10 HIV-2 specimens from a panel of known positives. From a prospective panel of 1,085 specimens, 38 proved to be positive by both EIAs and Western blot, 3 were positive by the recombinant EIA only, and 9 were positive by the peptide EIA only, for calculated specificities of 99.71 and 99.04%, respectively. Of 180 specimens from a seroconversion panel collected from 77 patients, the results for 170 were in agreement by all antibody testing methods and 10 were found to be repeat reactive for HIV antibodies by the recombinant EIA only. All 10 were initial specimens of seroconverting patients; 7 were also reactive for HIV p24 antigen. An examination of four of these sera by radioimmunoprecipitation assay showed gp120 and gp160 bands in each. Analysis of the anti-Env antibody class in three of these samples showed that one consisted of immunoglobulin M (IgM) only and two contained both IgG and IgM antibodies. Although both EIA procedures were sensitive and specific in the detection of antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 and both were capable of detecting early antibodies, the recombinant assay was more sensitive for antibody detection during early seroconversion.