The nucleoprotein (NP) gene from avian influenza strain A/Shearwater/Aust/1/72 (H6N5) was cloned, sequenced, and expressed in vaccinia virus for the production of potent sera in immunised rabbits. The NP gene is 1565 bp and shares >95% amino acid sequence identity with other NPs of the avian subtype. The recombinant NP expressed by vaccinia virus comigrated with endogenous A/Shearwater/Aust/1/72 NP by Western blot analysis. Polyclonal rabbit sera raised against recombinant NP was evaluated in an antigen capture ELISA system as a potential diagnostic tool for the detection of avian influenza. All type A strains, comprising several HA and NA subtypes, but not type B nor other avian viruses, were detected.