There is considerable interest in the discovery and characterization of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to enable the analysis of the potential relationships between human genotype and phenotype. Here we present a strategy that permits the rapid discovery of SNPs from publicly available expressed sequence tag (EST) databases. From a set of ESTs derived from 19 different cDNA libraries, we assembled 300,000 distinct sequences and identified 850 mismatches from contiguous EST data sets (candidate SNP sites), without de novo sequencing. Through a polymerase-mediated, single-base, primer extension technique, Genetic Bit Analysis (GBA), we confirmed the presence of a subset of these candidate SNP sites and have estimated the allele frequencies in three human populations with different ethnic origins. Altogether, our approach provides a basis for rapid and efficient regional and genome-wide SNP discovery using data assembled from sequences from different libraries of cDNAs.