In March 1990, a Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) outbreak was suspected in the district of Fenerive on the east coast of Madagascar after an abnormally high incidence of abortions and disease in livestock. Sera from humans and cattle were tested for RVFV antibodies by immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and ELISA-IgM capture. Sera and mosquitoes collected in the same area were tested for virus isolation by tissue culture and suckling mouse intracerebral inoculation, and for antigen detection by an ELISA antigen capture assay. Among cattle from the area, RVFV antibody prevalence was 58.6% by IFA and 29.6% by ELISA-IgM. In contrast, human populations in the same area had a lower RVFV antibody prevalence, with 8.01% IFA and 5.4% IgM-positive sera. No RVFV antigen was detected and virus isolation was unsuccessful from the sera and mosquito pools tested. Different hypotheses concerning the emergence and diffusion of RVFV in this area and the occurrence of the outbreak are discussed.