In the present study, we evaluated rapid real-time PCR assays for ply, Spn9802, and lytA applied to plasma samples for the detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae in patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). In a prospective study of CAP aetiology, an EDTA plasma sample was collected together with blood culture in 92 adult CAP patients and 91 adult controls. Among the 92 CAP patients, lytA PCR was positive in eight (9%), Spn9802 PCR was positive in 11 (12%) and ply PCR was positive in 19 (21%) cases. Of 91 controls, the ply PCR was positive in eight cases (9%), but no positive cases were noted by Spn9802 or lytA PCRs. Ten CAP patients had pneumococcal bacteraemia. Compared to blood culture, PCR for lytA, Spn9802 and ply had sensitivities of 70% (7/10), 60% (6/10) and 70% (7/10), and specificities of 96% (79/82), 94% (77/82) and 85% (70/82) respectively. With blood culture and/or culture of representative sputum, and/or urinary antigen detection, S. pneumoniae was identified in 31 CAP patients. Compared to these tests in combination, PCR for lytA, Spn9802 and ply showed sensitivities of 26% (8/31), 32% (10/31) and 42% (13/31), and specificities of 100% (61/61), 98% (60/61) and 90% (55/61) respectively. We conclude that Spn9802 and lytA PCRs may be useful for the rapid detection of bacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia, whereas ply PCR is not specific enough for routine use and blood PCR with small plasma volumes is not useful for the detection of nonbacteraemic pneumococcal pneumonia.