There is a current and ongoing need for the rapid, accurate diagnosis of ocular infection and the prompt initiation of appropriate therapy to prevent visual loss, maximize use of health care resources, and reduce physicians' medicolegal liability. For the busy clinician, and ideal rapid diagnostic test to determine ocular pathogens would be one whose result is available before the patient leaves the doctor's office, so that optimal treatment can be promptly instituted. Today, the major rapid diagnostic tests available to the busy clinician are the clinical examination and the stained microscopical smear of conjunctival and corneal specimens. The latter technique is grossly underutilized and would contribute significantly to improved accuracy in early diagnosis of ocular infections. In the near future, improved enzyme immunoassays and simplified PCR kits will provide for highly sensitive and specific diagnostic capabilities for detecting ocular pathogens in the laboratory and, possibly, office settings.