BACKGROUND: There is a recent trend of increased use of the gel test for the detection of unexpected antibodies (Abs) because of its simplicity and ease with which definitive interpretation can be made. However, because of the low insurance payments in Korea, only the LISS/Coombs card is used and thus the detection rate of the cold Abs has decreased. We have studied the detection rates of the Abs in patients by using the LISS/Coombs gel test and thus evaluated the clinical usefulness of the LISS/Coombs gel test. METHODS: Abs screening tests have been carried out using the DiaMed(TM) LISS/Coombs gel card test (Murten, Switzerland) on 14,942 patients for whom blood transfusions were ordered between July 1, 1997 and March 31, 2001. When the test for Abs was positive, Ab identification tests were further carried out with the DiaMed(TM) LISS/Coombs gel card and the ID-DiaPanel 1-11. RESULTS: Eighty-one out of 14,942 patients (0.54%) revealed positive results. Of these, 15 showed anti-E, 5 showed anti-E+c, 4 showed anti-C, 3 showed anti-D, 2 showed anti-Jk(a), 1 each showed anti-c, anti-M, anti-Lu(a), and anti-K Abs. CONCLUSIONS: Although the detection rate for the cold Abs of the LISS/Coombs gel test was low, it is considered to be highly useful because of the high detection rate for the clinically important warm Abs, the simplicity in carrying out the test, and the easy readability of test results.