Molecular diagnostic tests, based on the detection and identification of nucleic acids in human biological samples, are increasingly employed in the diagnosis of infectious diseases and may be of future benefit to CF microbiology services. Our growing understanding of the complex polymicrobial nature of CF airway infection has highlighted current and likely future shortcomings in standard diagnostic practices. Failure to detect fastidious or slow growing microbes and misidentification of newly emerging pathogens could potentially be addressed using culture-independent molecular technologies with high target specificity. This review considers existing molecular diagnostic tests in the context of the key requirements for an envisaged CF microbiology focussed assay. The issues of assay speed, throughput, detection of multiple pathogens, data interpretation and antimicrobial susceptibility testing are discussed.