Blood and oral fluid (OF) samples were collected from 103 suspected measles cases between February and November 2010 during a nationwide measles outbreak in Zimbabwe. Siemens measles IgM enzyme immunoassay (EIA) on serum, Microimmune measles IgM capture EIA on OF, real-time haemagglutinin (H) gene PCR and nested nucleocapsid (N) gene PCR on OF were performed, confirming 75 measles cases. These samples were then used to evaluate a newly developed point of care test (POCT) for measles and determine its potential for identifying measles cases in outbreaks. After performing POCTs on OF samples, nucleic acid was extracted from the used test strips and the measles H and N genes amplified by RT–PCR. The sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of the POCT for IgM in OF was 75·0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 63·4–84·5], 96·2% (95% CI 80·4–99·9), 98·2% (95% CI 90·3–100) and 58·1% (95% CI 42·1–73·0), respectively. The N gene sequences showed high level of agreement between original OF and corresponding POCT strips. Measles genotype B3 was identified in all cases. We conclude that the measles POCT has the potential to be used, at the point of contact, in outbreak situations and provide molecular characterization of the virus at a later date.