Pertussis remains endemic worldwide and is an important public health problem, even in countries with sustained high vaccination coverage. Resurgence of pertussis in the post-vaccination era has been reported in many areas of the world. The Global Pertussis Initiative (GPI) was established in 2001 to evaluate the ongoing problem of pertussis worldwide and to recommend appropriate pertussis control strategies. In addition to primary vaccinations, the GPI currently recommends a pertussis booster vaccination to pre-school children, adolescents and those adults at risk of transmitting. Bordetella pertussis infection to infants. At a meeting in Paris, France, in January 2010, GPI members discussed pertussis surveillance and testing then prepared recommendations on the implementation and utilisation of these activities. Issues and projects discussed included: national surveillance systems and their suitability for other countries; seroprevalence studies; ideal surveillance methodologies; ongoing efforts in obtaining biological samples; standardisation of sample treatment; culture; real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR); and likely future advances such as antibody detection in saliva. Previous regional meetings of the GPI have confirmed that many countries have limited laboratory facilities for the detection of pertussis. The GPI hopes that the future introduction of increased laboratory capabilities and greater harmonisation of clinical definitions and detection methods will lead to enhanced surveillance and a better estimate of the burden of pertussis infection worldwide. This article provides a current guide on the appropriate use of laboratory diagnostics and optimal surveillance methodologies to assist countries in the control of pertussis disease.