The aim of the study was to evaluate the MagNA Pure 96™ nucleic acid extraction system using clinical respiratory specimens for identifying viruses by qualitative real-time PCR assays. Three extraction methods were tested, that is, the MagNA Pure LC™, the COBAS Ampliprep™, and the MagNA Pure 96™ with 10-fold dilutions of an influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 sample. Two hundred thirty-nine respiratory specimens, 35 throat swabs, 164 nasopharyngeal specimens, and 40 broncho-alveolar fluids, were extracted with the MagNA Pure 96™ and the COBAS Ampliprep™ instruments. Forty COBAS Ampliprep™ positive samples were also tested. Real-time PCRs were used to identify influenza A and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, rhinovirus, enterovirus, adenovirus, varicella zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus. Similar results were obtained on RNA extracted from dilutions of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 with the three systems: the MagNA Pure LC™, the COBAS Ampliprep™, and the MagNA Pure 96™. Data from clinical respiratory specimens extracted with the MagNA Pure 96™ and COBAS Ampliprep™ instruments were in 98.5% in agreement (P < 0.0001) for influenza A and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. Data for rhinovirus were in 97.3% agreement (P < 0.0001) and in 96.8% agreement for enterovirus. They were in 100% agreement for adenovirus. Data for cytomegalovirus and HSV1-2 were in 95.2% agreement (P < 0.0001). The MagNA Pure 96™ instrument is easy-to-use, reliable, and has a high throughput for extracting total nucleic acid from respiratory specimens. These extracts are suitable for molecular diagnosis with any type of real-time PCR assay. J. Med. Virol. 84:906–911, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.