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An epidemiological survey was performed to detect the presence of Chlamydophila (C.) abortus and other members of the order Chlamydiales in ovine and caprine flocks with a history of abortion in southern Italy. Four pairs of primers were compared to evaluate their ability to detect Chlamydiales using purified DNA preparations and tissue samples from aborted foetuses with suspected chlamydial infections. As expected, amplification of DNA of the reference strain C. abortus using primer pairs U23F/23Sigr, 16SF2/23R, CTU/CTL and CpsiA/CpsiB produced fragments of about 600 bp, 585 bp, 1000 bp and 300 bp, respectively. The detection limits of the four PCR tests performed on serial DNA dilutions of the C. abortus reference strain were of 10 pg, 0.1 pg, 0.1 pg and 1 fg of DNA, respectively. The most sensitive amplification of DNA extracted from the organ tissues was obtained with primer pairs CpsiA/CpsiB, which detected Chlamydophila spp. DNA in all infected tissue samples. Only C. abortus was identified during the survey. The presence of this agent was confirmed in 3 out of 27 ovine and caprine flocks included in the survey suggesting that abortion due to C. abortus is uncommon in southern Italy.