A time-saving and cost-effective polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method was developed for species-specific detection of the scab pathogens (Streptomyces scabies and S. turgidiscabies) prevalent in potato (Solanum tuberosum) in northern Scandinavia. Species specificity of primers was verified using a collection of previously characterized Streptomyces strains isolated from potato scab lesions in Finland and Sweden. A total of 1245 scab lesions was tested from potato cvs Matilda and Sabina grown in the field in two geographic regions of Finland in 2000 and 2001. Freshly harvested or stored potato tubers were incubated at room temperature (18–21°C) under humid conditions for a few days. Bacterial growth was collected from scab lesions for DNA isolation and PCR. The two scab pathogens were detected in the same potato fields, tubers and scab lesions. The relative incidence of S. scabies was high in freshly harvested tubers but was much lower than that of S. turgidiscabies following storage. Both pathogens were seed-transmitted in Matilda and Sabina after 24 weeks of storage at 4°C.