A dual-color LightCycler PCR assay targeting the 16S rDNA gene of Legionella spp. was established. By using two pairs of hybridization probes, Legionella spp. and Legionella pneumophila could be detected and differentiated simultaneously. With 26 culture-positive and 42 culture-negative respiratory specimens from patients with atypical pneumonia, 100% sensitivity and specificity was observed for L. pneumophila.