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A single-tube, single-primer-set reverse transcription-PCR assay was developed for the rapid detection of polioviruses in infected tissue culture fluids and clinical materials. The poliovirus-specific PCR primers are located in the VP1-2A region of the poliovirus genome. They generate a 290-bp product and can be used in duplex reactions with general enterovirus primers. The primers span the region used for genotype determination, so that genotype analysis of wild-type polioviruses can be performed by direct sequencing of the PCR products. Of 125 virus isolates typed as polioviruses by neutralization assays, 125 (100%) were also positive by PCR, and of 38 isolates typed as non-polio enteroviruses by conventional techniques, 38 (100%) were also negative by PCR. The assay described here is rapid, highly sensitive, and specific and has clinical applicability in the diagnosis of poliovirus infections.