A solid phase micro-immunoradiometric assay (micro-SPIRA) for the detection of hepatitis e antigen (HBeAg) and antibody has been developed. Chimpanzee anti-HBe/2 was developed by repeated immunizations with purified antigen containing HBeAg/1 and HBeAg/2. An anti-HBe/2 titer of 1:4 was determined by immunodiffusion (ID) analysis. Anti-HBe/1 was not detected. The anti-HBe IgG used in the assay was purified from plasma by a combination of DEAE-cellulose and affinity chromatography. The sensitivity of the micro-SPIRA for antigen and antibody was 193 ng/ml and 65 ng/ml, respectively. By comparing relative endpoint titers obtained by ID to micro-SPIRA, it was determined that micro-SPIRA for antigen and antibody is 320 and greater than 1300 times more sensitive, respectively, than ID. The specificity of the assay was ascertained by the examination of various non-B specimens. The application of the assay to a panel of 50 hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive specimens resulted in an increase in positivity of 18% for antigen and 22% for antibody.