To evaluate the diagnostic value of nucleic-acid-sequence-based amplification (NASBA) for the detection of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in transplant recipients, we compared immediate early 1 (IE1) and late pp67 mRNA detection by NASBA with the antigenemia assay, PCR and viral culture in 72 renal transplant (RTx) recipients and with antigenemia and serology in 25 liver transplant (LTx) recipients. Antigenemia, viral culture and pp67 NASBA were almost equivalent for the detection of CMV in RTx recipients. In LTx recipients, antigenemia detected more positive samples and more positive recipients compared to pp67 NASBA. In RTx recipients, PCR detected more positive samples and positive recipients compared to pp67 NASBA, antigenemia and viral culture. Also the first day of detection was slightly earlier for PCR. However, IE1 NASBA was the most sensitive test and detected 96% of all positive samples and positive transplant recipients. In addition, IE1 NASBA preceded PCR and all other positive results. This makes IE1 NASBA a very attractive screening test for the early detection of CMV infection.