We report a new approach for molecular sex identification of extant Ursinae and Tremarctinae bears. Two Y-specific fragments (SMCY and 318.2) and one X-specific fragment (ZFX) are amplified in a multiplex PCR, yielding a double test for male-specific amplification and an internal positive control. The primers were designed and tested to be bear-specific, thereby minimizing the risk of cross-amplification in other species including humans. The high sensitivity and small amplicon sizes (100, 124, 160 base pairs) facilitate analysis of non-invasively obtained DNA material. DNA from tissue and blood as well as from 30 non-invasively collected hair and faeces yielded clear and easily interpretable results. The fragments were detected both by standard gel electrophoresis and automated capillary electrophoresis.