A method of indirect immunofluorescence was developed and examined retrospectively as a serological test for the laboratory diagnosis of California encephalitis (CE). LaCrosse virus immunofluorescence immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgM studies were done on paired sera from 50 patients with acute central nervous sytem infections. CE had been documented in 25 patients by hemagglutination inhibition, neutralizing, complement fixing, and/or precipitin tests. Five (20%) of the acute and 16 (64%) of the convalescent sera from CE patients had La Crosse IgM antibodies. Seven (28%) of the acute and all of the convalescent CE specimens had La Crosse IgG antibodies. Titers ranged from <4 to 256. IgG antibodies were present in all 11 sera collected 1 to 2 years after CE, but IgM antibodies were absent. The 25 serum pairs from patients who did not have CE were negative for IgM and IgG antibodies. This study indicated that La Crosse immunofluorescence antibody tests were as sensitive and specific for CE as conventional hemagglutination inhibition tests, and would detect at least 20% of patients during their acute illness.