The study investigated the effect of gamma-irradiation on bovine serum samples on the ability of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methods to detect trypanosomal antibodies. The serum samples were analysed using two standardised indirect ELISA systems. Higher measurement values were observed for most gamma-irradiated antibody positive and negative test samples. Using cut-off points, determined from the analysis of a non-irradiated trypanosomal antibody-negative population, the gamma-irradiated sera data showed that there was an increased risk of misclassifying samples as false positive or cross-reactive due to increased analytical sensitivity and decreased analytical specificity. The intraplate precision and agreement between tested and expected values of measurements were not altered throughout. The impact on the assays" diagnostic performance was estimated by analysing diagnostic sensitivity, diagnostic specificity and related parameters. The data demonstrated that although there was a bias of higher measurement values after gamma-irradiation, this could be compensated after readjustment of the cut-off points to obtain best separation of antibody-positive and -negative samples. Thus, for each assay, no significant difference of the diagnostic proficiency was found before and after gamma-irradiation. The practical implications are discussed of a serum sterilisation procedure using (60)Co gamma-rays for routine sample testing, assay validation and trypanosomosis monitoring and tsetse-fly control and eradication programmes.