In the study presented here, PCR, microscopic examination and culture of corneal samples were compared as methods of confirming the clinical diagnosis of Acanthamoeba keratitis, a serious ocular infection that is difficult to diagnose and threatens eyesight. The three methods were applied to isolates obtained from 513 patients with clinical signs or risk factors suggesting Acanthamoeba infection. Acanthamoeba keratitis was diagnosed in 12 of these patients. Combined PCR assays were more sensitive (94%) than either microscopic examination (33%) or culture (7%). The Acanthamoeba isolates were characterized using DNA sequence analysis of the nuclear small-subunit rRNA gene, and T4 was the predominant genotype found.