The advent of PCR has transformed the utility of the virus diagnostic laboratory. In comparison to traditional gel based PCR assays, real time PCR offers increased sensitivity and specificity in a rapid format. Over the past 4 years, we have introduced a number of qualitative and quantitative real time PCR assays into our routine testing service. During this period, we have gained substantial experience relating to the development and implementation of real-time assays. Furthermore, we have developed strategies that have allowed us to increase our sample throughput while maintaining or even reducing turn around times. The issues resulting from this experience (some of it bad) are discussed in detail with the aim of informing laboratories that are only just beginning to investigate the potential of this technology.