We have previously shown that Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative pathogen of melioidosis, may be discriminated from the closely related non-pathogenic species Burkholderia thailandensis by the presence of a 15 base pair deletion in the flagellin gene of B. thailandensis. Using specific flagellin gene primers flanking the distinctive region, PCR products of 191 and 176 bp in size were detected for B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis, respectively. The sensitivity of detection is 20-80 colony forming units/reaction of B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis cell suspension. To mimic the expected environmental situation, mixed populations of the two species were analyzed. The results showed that the PCR-based method could be use to distinguish the two species in a duplex reaction. In addition, we have developed a simplified method for direct PCR-based detection from soil samples. The result indicated that about 200 colonies of bacteria per reaction could be detected. This method can be applied to epidemiological studies, especially for investigating the ecological relationship between these two species in the environment.