A method is described for the rapid isolation and purification of bacterial genomic DNA. A total of 215 bacterial strains representing species of Campylobacter, Corynebacterium, Escherichia, Legionella, Neisseria, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, were lysed with guanidium thiocyanate. DNA was prepared using just three other reagents and one high-speed centrifugation step. The method, which was applicable to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, eliminated endogenous nuclease activity and avoided the need for phenol, RNase and protease treatments. The DNA was of high purity, high molecular mass and double-stranded.