Large-scale human genotyping requires technologies with a minimal number of steps, high accuracy, and the ability to automate at a reasonable cost. In this regard, we have developed a rapid, cost-effective readout method for single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping that combines an easily automatable single-tube allele-specific primer extension (ASPE) with an efficient high throughput flow cytometric analysis performed on a Luminex 100™ flow cytometer. This robust technique employs an ASPE reaction using PCR-derived target DNA containing the SNP and a pair of synthetic complementary capture probes that differ at their 3′ end-nucleotide defining the alleles. Each capture probe has been synthesized to contain a unique 25-nucleotide identifying sequence (ZipCode) at its 5′ end. An array of fluorescent microspheres, covalently coupled with complementary ZipCode sequences (cZipCodes), was hybridized to biotin-labeled ASPE reaction products, sequestering them for flow cytometric analysis. ASPE offers both an advantage of streamlining the SNP analysis protocol and an ability to perform multiplex SNP analysis on any mixture of allelic variants. All steps of the assay are simple additions of the solutions, incubations, and washes. This technique was used to assay 15 multiplexed SNPs on human chromosome 12 from 96 patients. Comparison of the microsphere-based ASPE assay results to gel-based oligonucleotide ligation assay (OLA) results showed 99.2% agreement in genotype assignments. In addition, the microsphere-based multiplex SNPs assay system was adapted for the identification of bacterial samples by both ASPE and single base chain extension (SBCE) assays. A series of probes designed for different variable sites of bacterial 16S rDNA permitted multiplex analysis and generated species- or genus-specific patterns. Seventeen bacterial species representing a broad range of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria were analyzed within 16 variable sites of 16S rDNA sequence. The results were consistent with the published sequences and confirmed by direct DNA sequencing. Hum Mutat 17:305–316, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.