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The presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA in the epithelial cells of oral hairy leukoplakia is the confirming criterion in the diagnosis of this lesion, which occurs mainly in persons infected by the human immunodeficiency virus. Because hairy leukoplakia often presages the development of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, it is important that suspicious lesions be accurately diagnosed. Commonly, biopsy tissue is removed for detection of EBV DNA by in situ hybridization, but biopsy is contraindicated in some patients. This study evaluated filter and cytospin in situ hybridization, two noninvasive techniques that examine epithelial cells swabbed from the surfaces of the lesions, for their sensitivity in detecting EBV DNA. As compared with tissue in situ hybridization, the filter and cytospin techniques had sensitivities of 100 and 92%, respectively. We conclude that these two noninvasive techniques can provide the clinician with an accurate alternative to biopsy whenever this human immunodeficiency virus-associated lesion is suspected.