Transmission of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) through boar semen has been demonstrated, stressing the need for a reliable semen PRRSV detection test. A diagnostic assay was developed based on amplification of the PRRSV RNA by reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) followed by detection of the amplification products by hybridization and colorimetric assay in microwell plates. A highly reproducible and efficient method of viral RNA isolation from semen samples was set up. A combined RT-PCR procedure was performed, incorporating the use of uracil-N-glycosylase (UNG) in combination with dUTP instead of dTTP to prevent false positive results due to carry-over contamination. An RNA internal control was added during the RNA isolation procedure to detect false negative results. The colorimetric detection in microwell plates of amplification products from either PRRSV or IC RNA gave specific and objective results and was automated. A cut-off value of 1000 RNA copies or 10 TCID50 of PRRSV per ml of semen samples could be detected with this assay. Semen samples collected from experimentally-infected boars were tested with this assay and showed PRRSV excretion early after infection and for an extended period.