Adenoviruses of subgenus F (types 40 and 41) cause infantile gastroenteritis and adenoviruses principally of types 1-7 are found in feces during respiratory or generalized infections. Adenoviruses (mostly types 3, 4, 8, 19, or 37) are also linked with follicular or epidemic conjunctivitis. The diagnostic efficiency of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for adenoviruses was assessed using genus-reactive primers H1 and H2 or JCH1 and JCH2 or subgenus F-specific primers F1a and F2a. With diarrheal stool specimens containing subgenus F adenoviruses, F1a/F2a PCR achieved at least as high a positivity rate (75/76 [99%]) as electron microscopy (72/76 [95%]) and was more sensitive than polyclonal antibody-based immune electron microscopy (IEM) for subgenus identification (75/76 [99%] vs. 66/76 [87%], P = 0.008). Twenty-three subgenus F strains untypeable by monoclonal antibody-based IEM were typed as 40 (n = 4) or 41 (n = 19) by Hha I digestion of the PCR product. The genus-reactive primer pairs provided DNA amplification assays of generally equal efficiency on conjunctival swab specimens though possible nucleic acid degradation in DNA extracts during storage could have meant that JCH1/JCH2 PCR was truly the more sensitive. The use of either genus-reactive primer set on fecal specimens cannot be recommended because, although the positivity rates with subgenus F PCR positive specimens were high (70/75 [93%] for H1 and H2, 14/15 [93%] for JCH1 and JCH2), the detection rates were disappointing with similar specimens yielding nonsubgenus F adenoviruses.