This report details a reliable and efficient RNA extraction protocol for the symbiotic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium microadriaticum Freudenthal (Gymnodiniales, Dinophyceae). The method typically gives yields of 500 mu g total RNA from 0.4 g wet weight of algae, and, in comparison to current protocols, it is technically simple and less time consuming. This method isolates high-quality, intact RNA from in vine cultured as well as host-isolated cells, as demonstrated by spectrophotometry, gel electrophoresis, and northern analysis. The total RNA obtained was suitable for reverse transcription and PCR amplification of Symbiodinium cDNAs. We have successfully applied our method to isolate total RNA from a different dinoflagellate, Amphidinium carterae Hulburt (Gymnodiniales, Dinophyceae), found in symbiotic association with marine invertebrates.