We tested three PCR based methodologies to detect adenoviruses associated with cultivated oysters. Conventional-PCR, nested-PCR, and integrated cell culture-PCR (ICC/PCR) were first optimized using oysters seeded with know amounts of Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5). The maximum sensitivity for Ad5 detection was determined for each method, and then used to detect natural adenovirus contamination in oysters from three aquiculture farms in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina State, Brazil, over a period of 6 months. The results showed that the nested-PCR was more sensitive (limit of detection: 1.2 PFU/g of tissue) than conventional-PCR and ICC-PCR (limit of detection for both: 1.2 x 10(2)PFU/g of tissue) for detection of Ad5 in oyster extracts. Nested-PCR was able to detect 90% of Ad5 contamination in harvested oyster samples, while conventional-PCR was unable to detect Ad5 in any of the samples. The present work suggests that detection of human adenoviruses can be used as a tool to monitor the presence of human viruses in marine environments where shellfish grow, and that nested-PCR is the method of choice.