A primer set of oligonucleotides (S18 and S19) from the ompC gene of Salmonella has been evaluated for specific detection of Salmonella by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This primer set successfully amplified 40 Salmonella serovars (60 isolates), but not 24 non-Salmonella bacteria (42 isolates) that have been tested so far. The uniqueness of these primer sequences was also confirmed. The sensitivity of PCR detection in extracted chromosomal DNA for Salm. typhimurium was 1 pg. The sensitivity for boiled whole bacteria was 400 cells. The detection of Salm. typhimurium in ground beef samples required 4-6 h enrichment with an initial inocula of 100 bacteria.