Effective infection control, efforts obviously depend on the performance of the Laboratory to detect emerging resistant pathogens accurately and confirm resistance patterns by additional methods to conventional or automated systems. Conventional methods stilt remain the predominant approaches for detection and identification of bacteria and resistance patterns. However, the estimated time for conventional tests to detect resistance is at Least 24-48 h for methicillin -resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin -resistant enterococci and other epidemiologically important pathogens. Most of the tests used for rapid detection require bacterial growth in culture. There is an important clinical need for rapid detection of bacteria directly from patient samples. Rapid methods based on immunological. or molecular technologies have contributed significantly. Molecular assays for several resistance markers are reliable, such as for mecA in staphylococci and vanA in enterococci. However, for other resistance markers, there is a lack of field testing. Cost-effectiveness of rapid detection of antibacterial resistance is another concern. Molecular assays would be useful for tertiary hospitals considering the investment costs and requirement of expert laboratory staff. For smaller centres, rapid tests based on immunological techniques may be a better choice. (c) 2005 The Hospital, Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.