A method for the rapid detection of verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 in stools was evaluated. Strains possessing Shiga toxin-2 (stx-2) genes were isolated from stool samples and amplified using oligonucleotide primers. Stools spiked with cultured E. coli O157:H7 (strain 298 or strain 1646) were detected to be polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive at 10(2) cfu per 0.1 g of stool. Stool samples from patients and healthy carriers showed a high correlation between positive results for a PCR and the presence of verotoxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, confirmed by isolation of serotype O157:H7 on sorbitol MacConkey medium (10 of 10 stool samples). These PCR products could be detected using a BIAcore 2000 surface plasmon resonance device using peptide nucleic acid as a sensor probe. In this report we use this method for the rapid detection of DNA from significant pathogenic organisms.