Large-scale screening for known polymorphisms will require techniques with few steps and the ability to automate each of these steps. In this regard, the 5' nuclease, or TaqMan, PCR assay is especially attractive. A fluorogenic probe, consisting of an oligonucleotide labeled with both a fluorescent reporter dye and a quencher dye, is included in a typical PCR. Amplification of the probe-specific product causes cleavage of the probe, generating an increase in reporter fluorescence. By using different reporter dyes, cleavage of allele-specific probes can be detected in a single PCR. The 5' nuclease assay has been successfully used to discriminate alleles that differ by a single base substitution. Guidelines have been developed so that an assay for any single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) can be quickly designed and implemented. All assays are performed using a single reaction buffer and single thermocycling protocol. Furthermore, a standard method of analysis has been developed that enables automated genotype determination. Applications of this assay have included typing a number of polymorphisms in human drug metabolism genes.