Enteric pathogens that cause gastroenteritis remain a major global health concern. The goal of this study was to develop a multiplex PCR/ligation detection reaction (LDR) assay for the detection of all NIAID category B bacterial food and water-borne pathogens directly from stool specimens. To validate the PCR/LDR assay, clinical isolates of Campylobacter spp., Vibrio spp., Shigella spp., Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli were tested. The sensitivity and specificity of the assay were assessed using a large number of seeded culture-negative stool specimens and a smaller set of clinical specimens from Haiti. The overall sensitivity ranged from 91% to 100% (median 100%) depending on the species. For the majority of organisms, the sensitivity was 100%. The overall specificity based on initial testing ranged from 98% to 100% depending on the species. After additional testing of discordant samples, the lowest specificity was 99.4%. PCR/LDR detected additional category B agents (particularly diarrheagenic E. coli) in 11/40 specimens from Haiti that were culture-positive for V. cholerae and in approximately 1% of routine culture-negative stool specimens from a hospital in New York. This study demonstrated the ability of the PCR/LDR assay to detect a large comprehensive panel of category B enteric bacterial pathogens as well as mixed infections. This type of assay has the potential to provide earlier warnings of possible public health threats and more accurate surveillance of food and water-borne pathogens.