A novel panfungal PCR assay which detects the small-subunit rRNA gene sequence of the two major fungal organism groups was used to test whole- blood specimens obtained from a series of blood or bone marrow transplant recipients. The 580-bp PCR product was identified after amplification by panfungal primers and hybridization to a 245-bp digoxigenin-labeled probe. The lower limit of detection of the assay was approximately four organisms per milliliter of blood. Multiple whole-blood specimens from five patients without fungal infection or colonization had negative PCR results. Specimens from 11 infected patients had positive PCR results. Blood from three patients with pulmonary aspergillosis had positive PCR results: one patient's blood specimen obtained in the week prior to the diagnosis of infection by a positive bronchoalveolar lavage fluid culture result was positive by PCR, and blood specimens obtained from two patients 1 to 2 days after lung biopsy and which were sterile by culture were positive by PCR. The blood of four patients with candidemia, three patients with mixed fungal infections, and one patient with fusariosis also had positive PCR signals. The panfungal PCR assay can detect multiple fungal genera and may be used as an adjunct to conventional methods for the detection of fungal infection or for describing the natural history of fungal infection. Further studies are needed to define the sensitivity and specificity of this assay for the diagnosis of fungal infection prior to the existence of other clinical or laboratory indications of invasive fungal infection.