Postmortem observations of 37 cattle from an outbreak of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in north Italy in 1993 were made at the abattoir, where samples of lung and tracheobronchial lymph node tissues were taken for culture and identification of Mycoplasma mycoides subspedes mycoides (MmmSC), immunohistochemistry with the peroxidase anti-peroxidase (PAP) system, and molecular detection by the polymerase chain reaction (KR) amplification of specific DNA from MmmSC. Nasal swabs were also taken for testing by KR. Lung pathology typical of CBPP was observed in 38 per cent of the animals, and MmmSC was isolated from 19 per cent. DNA of MmmSC was detected by PCR in 64 per cent of lung samples and 35 per cent of the nasal swabs. Staining of lung tissue and lymph node tissue by PAP was positive in 27 per cent and 30 per cent of cases, respectively, and was a useful back-up test. These results suggest that PCR amplification from lung tissue may be used as a rapid and accurate confirmatory test for cases with pathology resembling CBPP.