We describe a real-time multiplexed PCR method using Taqman® probes for the detection of total and pandemic Vibrio parahaemolyticus O3:K6 serovar in oysters and Gulf of Mexico water (gulf water). The specificity of these primers and probes was tested for amplification of a 450 bp thermolabile hemolysin (tlh) and a 369 bp ORF8 amplicon representing all V. parahaemolyticus and post-1996 clinical isolates of pandemic serovar O3:K6, respectively. The sensitivity of detection was 10 pg purified DNA or 103 CFU in 1 mL pure culture. Enrichment of this pathogen in oyster tissue homogenate or gulf water for 5 or 8 h resulted in the detection of an initial inoculum of 1 CFU in 1 mL or 1 g of samples. Application of the Taqman® PCR assay on natural oysters exhibited a positive detection of V. parahaemolyticus, ranging from 16% to 100% of the samples collected primarily during the summer months. None of the samples exhibited a positive detection of O3:K6 serovar. Rapid and sensitive detection of this pathogen will help shellfish industry and Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) undertake appropriate measures to monitor this pathogen in oysters and oyster-growing waters, thereby preventing disease outbreaks and consequently protecting consumer health. © 2006 Federation of European Microbiological Societies Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.