In many cases of envenoming following snake bite, the snake responsible for the accident remains unidentified; this frequently results in difficulty deciding which antivenom to administer to the systemically-envenomed victim, especially when only monospecific antivenoms are available. Normally the specific diagnosis of snake bite can be conveniently made using clinical and laboratory methods. Where clinical diagnosis depends upon the recognition of specific signs of envenoming in the patient, laboratory diagnosis is based on the changes which occur in envenomed victims including the detection of abnormalities in blood parameters, presence/absence of myoglobinuria, changes in certain enzyme levels, presence/absence of neurotoxic signs and the detection in the blood of specific venom antigens using immunologically-based techniques, such as enzyme immunoassay. It is the latter which is the main subject of this review, together with the application of techniques currently used to objectively assess the effectiveness of new and existing antivenoms, to assess first aid measures, to investigate the possible use of such methods in epidemiological studies, and to detect individual venom components. With this in mind, we have discussed in some detail how such techniques were developed and how they have helped in the treatment of envenoming particularly and in venom research in general.