It is uncertain which methods for the diagnosis of rectal gonococcal and chlamydial infection are optimal. This study evaluated the performance of culture and nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for rectal chlamydial and gonococcal diagnosis. From July 2003 until February 2007, 441 rectal test sets were collected from individuals attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic and three HIV clinics who gave a history of anal intercourse or were women at high risk for Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis infections. Rectal swab specimens were tested using culture and commercial NAATs employing transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), strand displacement amplification (SDA), and PCR amplification. Test performance was evaluated using a rotating standard by which patients were classified as infected if either two or three comparator tests were positive. Test sensitivities for the detection of N. gonorrhoeae ranged from 66.7% to 71.9% for culture to 100% for TMA. Specificities were 99.7% to 100% for culture and greater than 95.5% for all three NAATs. Test sensitivities for C. trachomatis ranged from 36.1% to 45.7% for culture and among NAATS from 91.4% to 95.8% for PCR to 100% for TMA. Specificities of the NAATs ranged from 95.6% to 98.5% (two-of-three standard) and from 88.8% to 91.8% (three-of-three standard). Over 60% and 80% of gonococcal and chlamydial infections, respectively, among men who have sex with men and over 20% of chlamydial infections in women would have been missed if the rectal site had not been tested. Currently available NAATs are more sensitive for the detection of chlamydial and gonococcal infection at the rectal site than is culture. Copyright © 2010, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.