A simplified approach for the extraction of DNA from red algae in presented. Procedures are simple and fast, requiring a minimum of reagents and apparatus. The method involves an initial lysis step followed by an optional phenol/chloroform extraction. The final gel-purification step removes polymerase chain reaction-inhibiting polysaccharides from the DNA preparation. DNA is extracted as easily from dried algae as it is from snap-frozen, fresh material, thus greatly facilitating the collection and transport of algal samples.