A fast and simple method to detect bacterial and especially mycoplasma contamination in tissue culture by means of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification is described. In a first step the universal primer pairs P1/P2 (190-bp fragment) and P3/P4 (120-bp fragment) directed to different conserved parts of the prokaryotic 16S rRNA gene are used. A positive signal after amplification on cell culture DNA with these primers provides an indication of bacterial infection. Using the internal primers IP1, IP3 and IP'3 complementary to a part of the V4 and V8 variable regions of the 16S rRNA gene, in combination with a universal primer, cultures contaminated with mycoplasma could be identified. Six mycoplasma species, typical contaminants in tissue cultures, were investigated: Mycoplasma orale, M. fermentans, M. arginini, M. hyorhinis, M. hominis and Aeromonas laidlawii. This mycoplasma test is an easy, specific and sensitive assay which should be extremely useful in any tissue culture setting.