Pigeon circovirus (picv) was detected in cloacal swab samples by means of a newly-developed, sensitive pcr. An initial investigation of 17 Belgian racing pigeons aged up to eight months showed that rates of detection of 88 per cent and above were achieved using samples of cloacal swab, blood and bursa of Fabricius. The sampling of 15 caged pigeons six times when they were from three to 31 weeks of age indicated that picv infections were more readily detected in cloacal swabs than in blood, and that the virus could be detected in cloacal swabs for longer periods after infection than in blood. picv infections were detected in cloacal swabs from 38 of 47 young pigeons aged from two to 31 weeks, from 12 racing lofts, which had clinical signs including diarrhoea and weight loss, regurgitation and respiratory signs. Samples from birds from two infected lofts indicated that picv could be detected in some birds for at least 27 weeks. Although nine of 14 pigeons aged from 32 to 45 weeks were virus-positive, picv was detected in only one of 18 adult pigeons that originated from four infected lofts.