The suitability of PCR (based on the amplification of the 16S rRNA gene) for use as a diagnostic test for the detection of Campylobacter spp. in human faecal specimens was assessed. A total of 493 faecal specimens from patients with symptoms of enteritis were tested for the presence of campylobacters using PCR. Results were compared with those obtained from the analyses of the same specimens by culture techniques, using chi 2 square with Fisher's exact test. PCR was found to detect significantly more positive specimens than culture (chi 2 = 200.086; P < 0.0001). The sensitivity and specificity of PCR when compared with the culture technique were found to be 91 and 97%, respectively. It is proposed that the PCR is a reliable and sensitive method which may be used as a routine diagnostic technique for the detection of campylobacters in clinical specimens.