The small subunit rRNA gene of the oyster pathogen Perkinsus marinus was characterized from cells of infected oyster hemolymph by polymerase chain reaction and molecular cloning. The gene, 1,793 nucleotides in size, has 77.2% sequence similarity to that of its host, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica. The sequence was confirmed using recently available in vitro cultures of P. marinus. DNA from pure P. marinus culture was amplified with specific primers synthesized according to the sequence from infected oyster hemolymph, and predicted size fragments were obtained. Furthermore, restriction digests yielded fragments of expected size in amplified rDNA from in vitro cultures. The P. marinus sequence has 97.5% similarity to the Perkinsus sp. sequence from the Australian mollusc Anadara trapezia.