Mycoplasma gallisepticum is a bacterial pathogen of poultry that is estimated to cause annual losses exceeding $780 million. The National Poultry Improvement Plan guidelines recommend regular surveillance and intervention strategies to contain M. gallisepticum infections and ensure mycoplasma-free avian stocks, but several factors make detection of M. gallisepticum and diagnosis of M. gallisepticum infection a major challenge. Current techniques are laborious, require special expertise, and are typically plagued by false results. In this study, we describe a novel detection strategy which uses silver nanorod array-surfaceenhanced Raman spectroscopy (NA-SERS) for direct detection of avian mycoplasmas. As a proof of concept for use in avian diagnostics, we used NA-SERS to detect and differentiate multiple strains of avian mycoplasma species, including Acholeplasma laidlawii, Mycoplasma gallinarum, Mycoplasma gallinaceum, Mycoplasma synoviae, and M. gallisepticum, including vaccine strains 6/85, F, and ts-11. Chemometric multivariate analysis of spectral data was used to classify these species rapidly and accurately, with >93% sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, NA-SERS had a lower limit of detection that was 100-fold greater than that of standard PCR and comparable to that of real-time quantitative PCR. Detection of M. gallisepticum in choanal cleft swabs from experimentally infected birds yielded good sensitivity and specificity, suggesting that NA-SERS is applicable for clinical detection. © 2012, American Society for Microbiology.