Many factors influence the choice of methods used to develop antibody to infectious agents. In this paper, we review the current status of the main technologies used to produce monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from the B cells of antigen-sensitized animals. While companies are adopting advanced high-throughput methods, the major technologies used by veterinary and medical research laboratories are classical hybridoma fusion and recombinant library selection techniques. These methods have inherent advantages and limitations but have many common aspects when using immunized rodents. Laboratories with expertise in both methods of antibody development have a distinct advantage in their ability to advance mAb technology. New and re-emerging infectious threats in today's world emphasize the need for quality immunoreagents and the need to maintain expertise in mAb development. We provide examples of some common applications for mAb reagents used to identify pathogens such as the SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Bacillus anthracis, and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus. We also outline a framework for investigators to make rational decisions concerning which method to use to develop mAbs based upon characteristics of the pathogen under study and the intended downstream application. Lastly, we provide parameters for the immunisation of mice and a classification system which describes the expected outcome for mAb development strategies when using classes of immunogens to generate mAbs with desired activities.