PCR-based techniques described to date for sex diagnosis in birds are not useful in ratites. We report here the identification of a W-linked marker in the ostrich (Struthio camelus) which allows gender diagnosis in chicks or juvenile birds. DNA from 10 females and 11 males was used to prepare two pools for each sex. Two-hundred different 10-mer primers of arbitrary sequence were used to screen those pools using a random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) assay. One primer (D 10) generated a female-specific band. Sex specificity was confirmed by testing the 21 animals individually. The candidate DNA fragment was cloned and sequenced. Longer primers were designed to optimize a sex-specific PCR which will be useful in diagnosis.