In order to establish an accurate, ready-to-use assay for simultaneous detection of Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV), we developed one duplex TaqMan real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, which can be used in human and vector surveillance. First, we selected the primers and FAM-labeled TaqMan-probe specific for WEEV from the consensus sequence of NSP3 and the primers and HEX-labeled TaqMan-probe specific for EEEV from the consensus sequence of E3, respectively. Then we constructed and optimized the duplex real-time RT-PCR assay by adjusting the concentrations of primers and probes. Using a series of dilutions of transcripts containing target genes as template, we showed that the sensitivity of the assay reached 1 copy/reaction for EEEV and WEEV, and the performance was linear within the range of at least 106 transcript copies. Moreover, we evaluated the specificity of the duplex system using other encephalitis virus RNA as template, and found no cross-reactivity. Compared with virus isolation, the gold standard, the duplex real time RT-PCR assay we developed was 10-fold more sensitive for both WEEV and EEEV detection.