We describe a solid-phase competitive enzyme immunoassay for determination of melatonin in serum. The detection limit of the assay is 1.0 fmol/well. Low cross-reactivity of the antiserum with other indoles, parallel serum extract dilution and melatonin standard curves, good analytical recovery, and within- and between-assay CVs of 6.4-14.4% provide validation of the assay. Linear regression analysis of melatonin concentrations measured with this assay (y) and with a commercial 3H RIA (x) in 88 sera yielded the relation y = 0.62 x - 0.76, Sy/x = 0.03. Values for melatonin in serum samples from healthy subjects are lower during the day than during the night. Melatonin response in rat serum and pineal gland to isoproterenol injection is similar to published RIA data. The analytical procedure is also simple. Thus, the assay should have practical applications in investigation of pineal function in both clinical and basic studies.