A highly sensitive and specific competitive ELISA on 96-microwell plates was developed for the analysis of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. Within the water cycle in Europe, this is one of the most frequently detected pharmaceutically active compounds. The LOD at a signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) of 3, and the IC50, were found to be 6 ng/L and 60 ng/L respectively in tap water. In a comparative study using ELISA and GC-MS, diclofenac levels in wastewater from 21 sewage treatment plants were determined and a good correlation between these methods was found (ELISA vs. GC-MS: r = 0.70, slope = 0.90, intercept = 0.37, n = 24). An average degradation rate of approximate to 25% can be calculated. Lab-scale-experiments on the elimination of diclofenac in continuous pilot sewage plants revealed a removal rate of only 5% over a period of 13 weeks. In a further study, the ELISA was applied to a number of extracts of various animal tissues from a range of species, and again a very good relationship between ELISA and LC-ESI/MS data sets was obtained (r 0.90, p < 0.0001; n = 117). The ELISA has proven to be a simple, rapid, reliable and affordable alternative to otherwise costly and advanced techniques for the detection of diclofenac in matrix diverse water samples and tissue extracts after only relatively simple sample preparation.