A longitudinal study was conducted in Southeast Uganda for 14 months on 640 Zebu cattle kept under natural tick challenge, with a view to identifying clinical features for prediction of seroconversion to Anaplasma marginale, Babesia bigemina and Theileria parva infections. Physical examination, condition scoring and tick counts were undertaken on all cattle every 4 weeks. In addition, 5300 sera were collected and analysed for antibodies against A. marginale, B. bigemina and T parva infections using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The major clinical features compiled included weight loss, fever (rectal temperature), anaemia (packed cell volume), pallor of mucous membranes, lymph node enlargement, staring coat, diarrhoea and lacrymation. The risk factors included tick challenge at village level, sex, age, Rhipicephalus spp. density and Boophilus spp. density on individual animals. Using a binary logistic regression model, the clinical features and risk factors were analysed. The results suggest that increasing rectal temperature was associated with increased probability for seroconversion to A. marginale, while high level of Rhipicephalus spp. density and increasing packed cell volume (PCV) were significantly associated with reduced probability of seroconversion. Although statistically significant, none of the factors had large effects, with odds ratios (OR) of 0.87, 1.15 and 0.98 for Rhipicephalus spp. density, rectal temperature and PCV, respectively. For B. bigemina infection, a high level of Boophilus spp. density, anaemia and staring coat were significantly associated with increased probability of seroconversion (OR 1.50, 1.78, 1.37, respectively). Presence of lacrymation and old age were associated with reduced probability of seroconversion (OR 0.52, 0.86 respectively). For T parva infection, lymph node enlargement (OR 1.30) was associated with increased probability of seroconversion, while high Rhipicephalus spp. density and increasing packed cell volume (PCV) were associated with reduced probability of seroconversion (OR 0.68 and 0.98, respectively). In conclusion, presence and intensity of the respective tick vectors for tick-borne diseases, age and clinical features such as anaemia, fever, staring coat, lymph node enlargement and lacrymation are indicators for seroconversion to A. marginale, B. bigemina and T parva infections in cattle. These indicators for seroconversion could be exploited in the development of decision support tools for clinical diagnosis of tick-borne diseases. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.