The heat-denatured signal-amplified p24 antigen assay is a low-cost test allowing the determination of plasma levels of HIV-1 p24 antigen in infected patients. This assay may be appropriate for monitoring disease progression in HIV seropositive patients in developing countries. Only a few data on the clinical validation of the test are available for HIV-1 non-subtypes B viruses that represent the vast majority of virus circulating in Africa. The present study was undertaken to evaluate and compare the performance of a heat-denatured signal-amplified p24 assay for the determination of p24 viral load in the plasma of individuals infected with different subtypes of HIV-1 and using the RT-PCR-based RNA viral load test as the gold standard. A total of 120 plasma samples from individuals infected with HIV-1 strains belonging to group M (subtypes A-->H) and group O, as well as recombinant strains, were tested in parallel with the heat-denatured signal-amplified p24 assay and the RNA viral load. Plasma p24 levels appeared to be correlated significantly with the plasma RNA viral loads (R=0.751, P<0.0001). The heat-denatured p24 antigen assay was capable of measuring the plasma level of p24 derived from all the HIV-1 subtypes and recombinants selected for this study, in contrast to the RNA viral load test which lacked sensitivity towards HIV-1 group O. The heat-denatured signal-amplified p24 assay is a reliable, sensitive and a more affordable tool that can be used for the follow-up of patients infected with B and non-B subtypes as well as recombinant forms of HIV-1 in developing countries.