Background: An antibody method based on absorption of serum with cytomegalovirus (CMV) glycoprotein B (gB) was developed for detection of infection during clinical trials of CMV gB vaccine. Previous study showed that this method detected the antibody response to infection and was negative with vaccine induced immunity. Objectives: In an ongoing efficacy trial of CMV gB vaccine the ability of the gB-absorbed CMV IgG assay to detect CMV infection was assessed and compared with viral culture results. Study design: Two hundred and ninety two healthy, seronegative young women in a phase II, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of recombinant CMV gB vaccine (sanofi pasteur) with MF59 adjuvant (Chiron) were randomized to receive CMV gB vaccine or placebo (1:1) on a 0, 1 and 6 month schedule. Participants were screened every 3 months for CMV infection using the gB-absorbed CMV IgG assay, and a subgroup was also screened for infection with viral cultures. Viral culture (urine, vaginal swab and saliva) was used to confirm CMV infection in all subjects with a positive gB-absorbed CMV IgG result. Results: Evidence of CMV infection (gB-absorbed CMV IgG levels ≥ 5.0 AU/ml) was found in 23/292 (7.88%) study participants. The gB-absorbed CMV IgG levels of their first positive serum ranged from 15.7 to 251.0 AU/ml with a mean of 77.0 AU/ml and a median of 44.9 AU/ml. Cytomegalovirus was isolated from all 23 of them from culture specimens collected after their first positive gB-absorbed CMV IgG. The time to first CMV positive culture from first positive gB-absorbed CMV IgG ranged from 0 to 12 weeks with a median of 2 weeks. Conclusions: The gB-absorbed CMV IgG assay detects CMV infection in CMV gB vaccine clinical trials earlier and more rapidly than virus culture and does not reveal whether subjects received CMV gB vaccine or placebo. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.