Understanding the pathogenesis of viral myocarditis is linked to the availability of sensitive assays to detect viruses in clinical material. Recent advances in molecular techniques permit direct detection of viral-specific nucleic acid in tissue samples. This report describes a protocol for DNA extraction and amplification of adenovirus genome from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded human tissues that detects as little as 10 copies of viral genome in a background of 0.5 μg of human DNA. This sensitive assay permitted the examination of archived tissues to establish a retrospective diagnosis of adenoviral myocarditis in two pediatric patients. © 1994.