The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is an innovative nucleic acid-based assay that has the highest sensitivity of any microbiological technique for the detection of bacteria. The purpose of this study was to use PCR to detect the presence of specific species of bacteria in samples collected from two geographical locations. Microbial samples from abscesses of endodontic origin were collected from patients in Portland, Oregon, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. PCRs with species-specific oligonucleotide primers for the 16S ribosomal RNA gene were used for detection of the bacteria after DNA extraction from each clinical sample. Statistical analysis revealed that there was a significant difference in detection of the bacteria between the two geographical locations for Prevotella intermedia, Prevotella nigrescens, Prevotella tannerae, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, but not for Porphyromonas endodontalis, Fusobacterium necrophorum, and Enterococcus faecalis. These results suggest that differences in bacteria detected or cultured in studies can be associated with geographical location.