Two viral agents with RNA genome are responsible for emerging illnesses: influenza virus A/H5N1 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus (SARS). For the diagnosis of SARS virus infection, an epidemiological investigation is necessary to know whether the patient has been exposed to a risk in a country where the SARS virus is circulating or whether the patient had worked in a laboratory handling SARS virus. The detection of SARS virus is possible in various clinical samples (including urine) by viral culture or RT-PCR. The handling of those samples and RNA extraction must be performed in a BSL3 laboratory. The SARS virus RT-PCR is poorly sensitive, therefore the test should be performed on samples collected consecutively for several days. In front of a suspicion of A/H5N1, similar procedures are recommended. An epidemiologic investigation is necessary to specify whether the patient stayed in a country where A/H5N1 virus was circulating. Clinical samples needed for a specific diagnosis are: nasopharyngeal, throat-swab or fecal samples, cerebrospinal fluid and blood. The presence of A/H5N1 virus is confirmed by viral isolation or RNA detection by RT-PCR. RNA extraction must be performed in a BSL3 laboratory. For diagnosis of A/H5N1 virus infection, RT-PCR test amplifies specifically a fragment of H5 gene (Hemagglutinin). In french laboratories of medical virology, procedures are ready to diagnose the first case of A/H5N1 virus infection and cases of reemerging SARS virus infection.