A reliable and efficient protocol is given for the isolation of mRNA from the periderm of potato tubers and sweet potato storage roots. The method relies on a urea-based lysis buffer and lithium chloride to concentrate total RNA away from most of the cytoplasmic components and to prevent oxidation of phenolic complexes. To enhance the physical separation of the RNA from other macromolecular components, the RNA fraction was incubated in the presence of the cationic surfactant Catrimox-14. Poly(A)+ mRNA was separated from total RNA and other contaminants by using Promega's MagneSphere technology. The mRNA was suitable for cDNA library construction and RNA fingerprinting.