A simple multiplex riboprobe system for detection of virulent Yersinia enterocolitica was developed using a pool of RNA probes specific for various chromosomal and plasmid-borne virulence gene sequences (yadA, virC, ail and yst). Riboprobes were synthesized by a rapid, simple and efficient technique involving in vitro transcription of polymerase chain reaction-generated templates incorporating bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase promoter sequences in one of the priming oligonucleotides. After dot blotting target DNA samples on nitrocellulose and hybridization with the riboprobes, the RNA: DNA hybrids formed were detected by a simple immunoenzymic assay involving sequential reactions with an anti-RNA : DNA hybrid monoclonal antibody, anti-mouse Ig-peroxidase conjugate and chromogenic or chemiluminescent enzyme substrate solution. This multiplex riboprobe system targeting both chromosomal and plasma-borne sequences permitted detection of virulent Y. enterocolitica, regardless of plasmid loss during handling of cultures, and was unreactive with a virulent Y. enterocolitica, other Yersinia and other bacteria. This system resulted in a significant improvement in the limit of detection in comparison to that obtained with individual probes.