Detection of parvovirus B19 DNA offers diagnostic advantages over serology, particularly in persistent infections of immunocompromised patients. A rapid, novel method of B19 DNA detection and quantification is introduced. This method, a quantitative PCR assay, is based on real-time glass capillary thermocycling (LightCycler [LC]) and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). The PCR assay allowed quantification over a dynamic range of over 7 logs and could quantify as little as 250 B19 genome equivalents (geq) per ml as calculated for plasmid DNA (i.e., theoretically >or=5 geq per assay). Interrater agreement analysis demonstrated equivalence of LC-FRET PCR and conventional nested PCR in the diagnosis of an active B19 infection (kappa coefficient = 0.83). The benefit of the new method was demonstrated in an immunocompromised child with a relapsing infection, who required an attenuation of the immunosuppressive therapy in addition to repeated doses of immunoglobulin to eliminate the virus.