Cercarial shedding tests do not provide species identification of the shistosomes concerned and cannot detect prepatent schistosomal infections. We have demonstrated that both immunodetection by ELISA of schistosomal antigens in snail hemophlymph, and dot hybridization of snail extracts by DNA probe representing highly repeated sequences, proved suitable for detecting infected snails during prepatnecy as well as patency. A group-specific monoclonal antibody was found to be suitable for detecting Schistosoma mansoni infection in Biomphalaria sp., but not for positive identification of S. haematobium in Blulinus sp. Comparative evaluation of the diagnostic qualities, and technical aspects and cost of these tests, point to the superiority of the immunodetection approach for large scale detection of snails prepatently infected with S. mansoni. This approach is potentially useful for providing extended information on schistosome-snail epidemiology that may facilitate rapid evaluation of the danger of post-control reinfection, and help make decisions on the time and place of supplementary control measures. In this context the potential usefulness of the immunodetection or DNA probing approach for facilitating catalytic model representation of schistosome-snail epidemiology warrants further evaluation. Specific identification of S. haematobium in Bulinus by either of these approaches may be possible depending on the development of suitable antibodies or DNA probes.