A simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for rapid identification of different species of mycobacteria was developed. This PCR is based on the use of conserved sequences to amplify the genome of several mycobacterial species. The amplification patterns obtained were specific and reproducible for the species tested. In particular, we could identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis (both produced the same pattern), Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium kansasii, Mycobacterium xenopi, Mycobacterium chelonae, Mycobacterium peregrinum, Mycobacterium fortuitum, Mycobacterium gordonae and Mycobacterium smegmatis. Moreover, due to the numerous copies of the target sequences present in the genome, the PCR showed a very high level of sensitivity.