We compared use of protein-A-containing Staphylococcus aureus bacteria with conventional ammonium sulfate precipitation and second-antibody methods of separating bound and free antigen in the radioimmunoassay of a hapten (digoxin) and protein (ferritin) in human sera. In each case, values obtained with the heat-killed, formalin-fixed bacteria correlated well with those found by established methods. No matrix effects were detected in either hapten or protein measurements. Because of the affinity of S. aureus for rabbit IgG, rabbit antisera could be used with a small number of bacteria to detect antigen in the presence of 50-fold excess human IgG. The availability of S. aureus and ease of handling make this reagent a rapid, economical alternative of general applicability in radioimmunoassay.