Hypermethylation of CpG islands is a phenomenon commonly observed during the development and progression of human tumors. Detection of methylated-CpG islands in easily accessible biological materials such as serum has the potential to be useful for the early diagnosis of cancer. Most currently used methods for detecting methylated-CpG islands are based on sodium bisulfite conversion of genomic DNA, followed by PCR reactions. Here we describe a method, methylated-CpG island recovery assay (MIRA) that does not depend on the use of sodium bisulfite but has similar sensitivity and specificity as bisulfite-based approaches. Methyl-CpG-binding domain proteins, such as methyl-CpG-binding domain protein-2 (MBD2), have the capacity to bind specifically to methylated DNA sequences. In the MIRA procedure, sonicated genomic DNA isolated from cells or tissue is incubated with a matrix containing glutathione-S-transferase-MBD2b in the presence of methyl-CpG-binding domain protein 3-like-1, a binding partner of MBD2 that increases the affinity of MBD2 for methylated DNA. Specifically bound DNA is eluted from the matrix and gene-specific PCR reactions are performed to detect CpG island methylation. Methylation can be detected using 1 ng of DNA or 3000 cells. MIRA is a specific and sensitive, but not laborious, technique that can be clinically useful in the detection and diagnosis of any DNA methylation-associated disease, including cancer.