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Molecular-based detection methods such as PCR techniques have had a significant impact on the diagnosis of viral infections because of their superior sensitivity and rapid turnaround time. This review describes the use of real-time PCR on the capillary thermal cycler, the Roche LightCyclerTM, for early disease detection in diagnostic virology. The advantages of using the LightCycler, the detection processes using SYBR® Green I and different hybridization strategies will be discussed in detail, with specific examples drawn from our in-house viral assays. The use of the LightCycler for the investigation of two recent viral outbreaks in Singapore will also be briefly described.