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The aim of this study was to detect Aspergillus fumigatus-specific DNA by nested PCR (nPCR) in serum and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens of experimentally infected rats and compare the results with (1–3)-β-D-glucan (BDG) and galactomannan (GM) detection. Sixty Wistar rats, immunosuppressed with an intraperitoneal injection of cyclophosphamide (70 mg kg−1) were infected with 1 × 106A. fumigatus conidia. The rats were killed on days 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 postinfection in groups of six each and their BAL, blood and lungs were cultured. The A. fumigatus-specific DNA, BDG and GM in serum and BAL were detected by nPCR, Fungitell kit and Aspergillus Platelia kit respectively. Base line values were obtained by using sera from six healthy rats. Except the lungs, blood and BAL specimens of all the infected rats were negative for A. fumigatus culture. The BDG, GM and nPCR positivity in serum specimens was 80%, 77% and 63% respectively. The sensitivity of GM and nPCR tests in BAL specimens was 77% and 70% respectively. The data suggest that BDG and GM appear early in the course of infection, and have similar kinetics (r = 0.483, P = 0.007). Hence, their combined detection could be useful in the early diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis.