The diagnosis of human cases of tularemia is usually confirmed by the demonstration of an antibody response to Francisella tularensis, which occurs about 2 weeks after the onset of disease. Due to a high risk of infection in the laboratory, cultivation of the causative agent tends to be avoided. During an outbreak in Sweden, the use of PCR for diagnosing the ulceroglandular form of tularemia was evaluated. Extraction and preparation of F. tularensis DNA from swab samples from the wounds of patients with tularemia involved the use of the nuclease inhibitor guanidine thiocyanate. The DNA was detected by multiplex PCR targeting the 16S rRNA gene and a 17-kDa lipoprotein gene of F. tularensis. In 29 of 40 (73%) patients with serologically confirmed tularemia, F. tularensis DNA was successfully amplified. Considering the limitations of current diagnostic procedures, PCR may become useful for the early diagnosis of tularemia.