Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma species are well-known human pathogens responsible for a broad array of inflammatory conditions involving the respiratory and urogenital tracts of neonates, children, and adults. Greater attention is being given to these organisms in diagnostic microbiology, largely as a result of improved methods for their laboratory detection, made possible by powerful molecular-based techniques that can be used for primary detection in clinical specimens. For slow-growing species, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium, molecular-based detection is the only practical means for rapid microbiological diagnosis. Most molecular-based methods used for detection and characterization of conventional bacteria have been applied to these organisms. A complete genome sequence is available for one or more strains of all of the important human pathogens in the Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma genera. Information gained from genome analyses and improvements in efficiency of DNA sequencing are expected to significantly advance the field of molecular detection and genotyping during the next few years. This review provides a summary and critical review of methods suitable for detection and characterization of mycoplasmas and ureaplasmas of humans, with emphasis on molecular genotypic techniques. © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology and the Association for Molecular Pathology.