The objective of this study was to develop a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect and differentiate food-borne pathogens of the three genera Campylobacter, Arcobacter and Helicobacter in a single step procedure. One common reverse primer and three genus-specific forward primers were designed by hybridizing to the 16S rRNA of selected reference strains. Besides the species with significance as food-borne pathogens isolated from poultry meat--Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter coli, Arcobacter butzleri and Helicobacter pullorum--several other members of these genera were tested to determine the specificity of the designed multiplex PCR. In total, 20 ATCC and NCTC reference strains of Campyobacter, Arcobacter and Helicobacter were used to evaluate the PCR. Specific amplificates were obtained from all thermophilic species of Campylobacter as well as from species of Arcobacter and Helicobacter. No amplification product was obtained from the non-thermophilic Campylobacter, C. hyointestinalis and C. fetus. Furthermore, a total of 43 field strains of the three genera isolated from poultry, pigs, cattle and humans were investigated using this PCR. To confirm the classification of 10 H. pullorum strains the 16S rRNAs were sequenced. The developed PCR is a helpful diagnostic tool to detect and differentiate Campylobacter, Arcobacter and Helicobacter isolated from poultry and poultry products.