The sensitivity of an indirect fluorescent antibody (FA) staining technique for detecting chlamydial inclusions in scrapings from the whole conjunctiva (upper tarsus, upper fornix, and lower lid) was compared with the sensitivity of culture in irradiated McCoy cells for the diagnosis of hyperendemic trachoma. In a group of 211 patients with various grades of active trachoma from the Bandar Abbas area of Southern Iran 42 patients were positive for chlamydiae by either method. There was little difference between the rates of positivity of FA staining of the scrapings from the whole conjunctiva (28 positives) and culture in irradiated McCoy cells (32 positives). In the patients included in this study chlamydial inclusions were detected in 15 eyes by examination of FA stained scrapings taken from the upper tarsal conjunctiva, whereas inclusions were detected in 40 eyes by the additional examination of scrapings taken from the upper fornix and lower lid (P less than 0.001). The examination of FA stained scrapings taken from the whole conjunctiva and spread as a single but larger smear may provide a satisfactory alternative to cell culture methods for the diagnosis of trachoma, particularly for field studies when cell culture facilities are not available.