The efficacy of three proprietary glutaraldehyde disinfectants and their component bases was assessed using the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) model. Inactivation of infectivity of undiluted serum containing 106·8 ID50/ml DHBV was assessed after a mixture with an equal volume of disinfectant had stood at room temperature for 10 min. A dried spill of infectious serum was simulated using sterile filter paper disks, saturated with serum containing DHBV, dried and then exposed to test disinfectant for 10 min. Residual infectivity, and hence the reduction in virus titre, was determined by inoculation of dilutions of the treated samples into 1-day-old ducklings. A greater than 3 log10 reduction in virus titre could be demonstrated for the disinfectants as well as for some of their component bases. Disinfectant activity varied according to the method of viral presentation but a reduction of exposure time from 10 to 2·5 min did not diminish activity. The experimental protocol permits a comparative and quantitative assessment of the efficacy of both established and new disinfectants.