BACKGROUND: Asymptomatic vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) colonization precedes infection. VRE-colonized patients serve as silent reservoirs of enterococci that go on to colonize other patients. Rapidly identifying colonized patients is crucial to prevent the spread of VRE. The culture-based method of VRE screening is time-consuming. We evaluated the diagnostic performance of a recently developed multiplex real-time PCR for the detection of VRE. METHODS: We obtained 105 rectal swabs from patients who were being monitored for carriage of VRE. After 24 hour incubation of swabs in enterococcosel broth (EB) supplemented with 6 microg/mL vancomycin, multiplex real-time PCR was performed using the Anyplex(TM) VanR Real-time Detection (VanR) kit (Seegene, Inc., Seoul, Korea). The results of multiplex real-time PCR were compared to those of culture. We evaluated the specificity and detection limits of multiplex real-time PCR using VanR for VRE. RESULTS: A total of 96/105 (91.4%) samples were VRE positive according to multiplex real-time PCR with EB while 85/105 (80.9%) samples were positive in culture. Eleven discordant results (10.4%) (multiplex real-time PCR positive, culture negative) were noted. All non-enterococcal bacteria and vancomycin-susceptible enterococci were negative. The DNA detection limits of VanR were 0.035 pg per reaction (3 microL) for Enterococcus faecium and 0.35 pg for Enterococcus faecalis. CONCLUSION: The application of multiplex real-time PCR after EB incubation allows rapid and sensitive detection in 26-28 hours for VRE screening from rectal swabs. This method could facilitate the timely implementation of contact isolation to prevent the spread of VRE.