RNA was extracted from dormant and germinating Bacillus subtilis 168 spores (intact spores and chemically decoated spores) by using rapid rupture followed by acid-phenol extraction. Spore germination progress was monitored by assaying colony forming ability before and after heat shock and by reading the optical density at 600 nm. The purity, yield, and composition of the extracted RNA were determined spectrophotometrically from the ratio of absorption at 260 nm to that at 280 nm; in a 2100 BioAnalyzer, giving the RNA yield/10(8) spores or cells and the distribution pattern of rRNA components. The method reported here for the extraction of RNA from dormant spores, as well as during different phases of germination and outgrowth, has proven to be fast, efficient and simple to handle. RNA of a high purity was obtained from dormant spores and during all phases of germination and growth. There was a significant increase in RNA yield during the transition from dormant spores to germination and subsequent outgrowth. Chemically decoated spores were retarded in germination and outgrowth compared with intact spores, and less RNA was extracted; however, the differences were not significant. This method for RNA isolation of dormant, germinating, and outgrowing bacterial endospores is a valuable prerequisite for gene expression studies, especially in studies on the responses of spores to hostile environmental conditions.