Three culture media were compared with Giemsa-stained smears for the detection of Leishmania in splenic aspirates from Kenyan patients with visceral leishmaniasis. Ninety-nine splenic aspirates obtained from 26 patients at various times before, during, and after treatment were cultured in Schneider's Drosophila medium and RPMI medium 1640 (each supplemented with 20% fetal bovine serum) and McConnell's modification of Senekje's medium overlayed with 0.9% saline. From 13 splenic aspirates obtained before treatment, amastigotes were identified microscopically in all and promastigotes were cultured in 12. During and after treatment, Schneider's medium was the most sensitive method for detecting parasites, followed by microscopic examination of stained smears which was more sensitive than either of the other two media tested. Results indicate that, for initial diagnosis, both culture and direct microscopy of aspirates should be employed.