Due to the limitations of classical methods for the detection of systemic fungal infections and the high mortality rates associated with these infections, it has become essential to develop a quick, sensitive and specific detection assay. By using the Idaho Technologies Light-Cycler system, a qualitative real-time PCR system has been developed for the detection of the leading causes of systemic infection within the genus Candida. The sensitivity of the assay was comparable to previously described PCR methods (1-5 c.f.u. ml(-1)) and, by the use of a single Candida probe, it was able to detect, but not differentiate between, seven species of Candida (Candida albicans, Candida dubliniensis, Candida glabrata, Candida kefyr, Candida krusei, Candida parapsilosis and Candida tropicalis). Single-round amplification on the Light-Cycler allowed rapid turn-around of clinical samples (within one working day) and it was shown to be more sensitive than classical procedures, exposing 39 possible systemic infections that were not detected by blood culture.