Malaria antibody detection is valuable in providing retrospective confirmation of an attack of malaria. Blood bank screening is another area were malaria serology is potentially useful. In the present study, we tested the presence of antibodies to Plasmodium falciparum in sera from blood bank donors of non-endemic and malaria-endemic areas of Venezuela. Sera from 1,000 blood donors were tested by an indirect immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) assay and an IgG-ELISA for the presence of malaria antibodies using a synchronized in vitro-cultured Venezuelan isolate of P. falciparum as the antigen source. A selected group of positive and negative sera (n = 100) was also tested by a dot-IgG-ELISA. Positive results (reciprocal titer > or = 40) were found in 0.8% and 3.8% of blood donors when tested by the IFA assay and in 0.8% and 2% (optical density > or = 0.2) when tested by the IgG-ELISA in Caracas (non-endemic area) and Bolivar City (endemic area), respectively. The presence of anti-malarial antibodies in some sera from non-endemic areas such as Caracas reflects the increased potential risk of post-transfusional malaria in those areas due to the mobility of the blood donors. The data obtained indicate the need to implement new blood donor policy in blood banks in developing areas. Our results also indicate that the IFA assay is the most reliable test to use in malaria serodiagnosis.