The different sensitivity values were obtained in each study conducted for the diagnosis of leishmaniasis with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). However, a standardized PCR target for the diagnosis of leishmaniasis does not exist. The aim of the current study, the most ideal PCR target was determined for diagnosis of leishmaniasis. A total of 72 smear and 48 bone marrow samples were analyzed with six different molecular targets to determine their potential as a tool for the specific molecular diagnosis of leishmaniasis using PCR. The positivity-negativity value and the sensitivity-specificity of each PCR targets were calculated. The positivity value of PCR targets were sequenced in different levels in the diagnosis of leishmaniasis from highest to lowest in the order of kDNA-PCR > SSU rRNA-PCR > ITS2-PCR > ITS1-PCR > ME-PCR > HSP7O-PCR. The sensitivities of PCR targets except ITS1-PCR, ME-PCR and HSP7O-PCR were found to be 100% in cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) and visceral leishmaniasis (VL) cases as compared to microscopic examination accepted as a gold standard. The sensitivities of ITS1-PCR, ME-PCR and HSP7O-PCR were found 96.6%, 90.0% and 86.6%, respectively, in CL-cases. In addition, the sensitivities of ITS1-PCR, ME-PCR and HSP7O-PCR were found 90.0%, 70.0% and 60.0%, respectively, in VL-cases. The kDNA genomic region was the most sensitive for routine diagnosis of leishmaniasis. ITS1-PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism, the alternative method for the identification of Old World Leishmania species, did not require culturing of the parasites. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.