Avian pneumovirus (APV) or turkey rhinotracheitis virus (TRTV) is an important respiratory pathogen of domesticated poultry in many countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Until recently, the United States was considered free of APV. In late 1996, an atypical upper respiratory tract infection appeared in turkey flocks in Colorado and shortly thereafter in turkey flocks in Minnesota. An avian pneumovirus (APV-US) that was serologically distinct from the previously described TRTV was isolated as the primary cause of the new syndrome. The nucleotide sequence of a fragment of the APV-US fusion gene was determined and used to develop a polymerase chain reaction-based assay that specifically detects APV-US viral nucleic acid sequences in RNA extracts of tracheal swabs and turbinate homogenates. The assay is highly sensitive in that it can detect <0.01 TCID50 of APV. The availability of this assay enables the rapid and accurate determination of APV-US in infected poultry flocks.