• Premise of the study: Demand for fresh-market sweet basil continues to increase, but in 2009 a new pathogen emerged, threatening commercial field/greenhouse production and leading to high crop losses. This study describes a simple and effective staining method for rapid microscopic detection of basil downy mildew (Peronospora belbahrii) from leaves of basil (Ocimum basilicum). • Methods and Results: Fresh leaf sections infected with P. belbahrii were placed on a microscope slide, cleared with Visikol™, and stained with iodine solution followed by one drop of 70% sulfuric acid. Cell walls of the pathogen were stained with a distinct coloration, providing a high-contrast image between the pathogen and plant. • Conclusions: This new staining method can be used successfully to identify downy mildew in basil, which then can significantly reduce its spread if identified early, coupled with mitigation strategies. This technique can facilitate the control of the disease, without expensive and specialized equipment.