Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL)

The venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test is designed to assess whether you have syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The bacterium infects by penetrating into the lining of the mouth or genital area.

The venereal disease research laboratory test doesn’t look for the bacteria that cause syphilis. Instead, it checks for the antibodies your body makes in response to antigens produced by cells damaged by the bacteria. So antibodies are a type of protein produced by your immune system to fight off invaders like bacteria or toxins. Testing for these antibodies can let your doctors know whether you have syphilis.

You don’t need to have the symptoms of syphilis for this test to be accurate. And because it checks for antibodies produced as a result of a syphilis infection. The VDRL test can be used regardless of whether you currently have any symptoms.

The VDRL test doesn’t require you to fast or stop taking any medications. If your doctor wants you to make an exception, they’ll let you know before your test. If your doctor suspects that the syphilis infection has spread to your brain, your doctor may choose to test your spinal fluid in addition to your blood. (

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