Sewage outfalls and storm water runoff introduces pathogenic human enteric viruses into marine coastal waters, which may pose a potential public health risk. Although members of the enterovirus group have been suggested as possible indicators of sewage pollution in marine waters, the lack of rapid, sensitive and cost effective methods have prevented routine monitoring in the United States. This study compared traditional cell culture and direct RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) amplification for detection of an enterovirus. Poliovirus could be recovered from 100 L of artificial seawater with an average efficiency of 77%, using adsorption and elution from electronegative filters. Viruses were eluted from the filters with 1.5% beef extract for viruses (BEV) adjusted to pH 9.5 and reconcentrated by organic flocculation to a volume of 30 mL. Substances which interfered with detection by RT-PCR were removed by treatment of the concentrates with sephadex and chelex resins. Direct RT-PCR could detect 2.5 and 0.025 PFU (plaque forming units) for single (25 cycles) and double PCR (2 × 25 cycles) in 10 μL of pure culture poliovirus samples, respectively. These methods are currently being applied to assess the occurrence of enteroviruses at marine bathing beaches influenced by sewage discharges.