A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method was developed to detect DNA of Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines, the cause of soybean sudden death syndrome. Two pairs of primers, Fsg1/Fsg2 designed from the mitochondrial small subunit ribosomal RNA gene, and FsgEF1/FsgEF2 designed from the translation elongation factor 1-α gene, produced PCR products of 438 and 237 bp, respectively. Primer specificity was tested with DNA from 82 F. solani f. sp. glycines, 55 F. solani non-SDS isolates, 43 isolates of 17 soybean fungal pathogens and the oomycete Phytophthora sojae, and soybean. The sensitivity of primer Fsg1/Fsg2 was 10 pg while that of FsgEF1/FsgEF2 was 1 ng when using F. solani f. sp. glycines total genomic DNA or down to 103 macroconidia g−1 soil. Nested PCR increased the sensitivity of the PCR assay 1000-fold to 10 fg using primers Fsg1/Fsg2, and 1 pg using primers FsgEF1/FsgEF2. F. solani f. sp. glycines DNA was detected in field-grown soybean roots and soil by PCR using either single pairs of primers or the combination of two pairs of primers. The occurrence of F. solani f. sp. glycines was determined using nested PCR for 47 soil samples collected from soybean fields in 20 counties of Illinois in 1999. F. solani f. sp. glycines was detected in soil samples from all five Illinois Agricultural Statistic Districts including 100, 89, 50, 92 and 50% of the samples from East, Central, North-east and West Districts, respectively.