The high incidence of pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis carinii in immunosuppressed patients makes it the most important parasite in non-tropical geographical regions. It has recently been shown to be a fungus, but several aspects of this organism are still poorly understood. A major question of clinical relevance is the nature of transmission and, thereby, the related problem of prevention. The mode of P. carinii transmission is thought to be air, but this is based on circumstantial evidence, the transmissive stage has not been identified. We attempted to capture P. carinii by filtration of air in the vicinity of cages containing P. carinii infected Wistar rats. Using nested polymerase chain reaction amplification of the thymidylate synthase gene to demonstrate P. carinii we were able to demonstrate P. carinii DNA on such filters. This strongly supports the suggested mechanism of transmission of Pneumocystis by means of airborne spores and suggests an approach to their isolation and characterization.