In this study we applied a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the detection and species-specific identification of mycobacteria to samples from patients with sarcoidosis and mycobacterial infections and from control patients. The PCR-technique is based on the amplification of mycobacterial DNA coding for 16S rRNA, which is present in all mycobacterial species, and on the additional sequencing of the PCR fragment to determine the species. Mycobacterial DNA could be detected in lung tissues and bronchoalveolar lavage cells from cases of tuberculosis and infections with atypical mycobacteria. On the other hand, mycobacterial DNA was amplified only in lung tissue from one patient with sarcoidosis. Twenty-three samples from patients with sarcoidosis were negative for mycobacterial DNA. From our results we conclude that the granulomatous lesions in sarcoidosis may not be due to mycobacterial infections.