An increase in the prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) in recent years has accelerated the search for novel tools for the rapid diagnosis of TB infection. This study evaluated the GenoType Mycobacteria Direct (GTMD) assay (Hain Lifescience) for direct detection of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) from sputum samples and compared it with conventional methods. The GTMD test is a commercial assay produced using strip techniques and works based on a nucleic acid sequence-based amplification technique. This test allows 23S rRNA amplification-based detection of MTBC, Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium intracellulare, Mycobacterium kansasii and Mycobacterium malmoense directly from decontaminated clinical samples within 6 h. In the present study, 115 sputum samples were processed to detect acid-fast bacilli (AFB) using two microscopy methods (carbol fuchsin and fluorescent staining), two culture methods [Lowenstein-Jensen (U) and BACTEC 12B media] and the GTMD test. The results showed that 86 of the samples were positive by direct microscopy, 84 were positive by BACTEC 12B culture, 73 were positive by U culture and 95 were positive by the GTMD test. All of the isolates turned out to be MTBC. Moreover, the sensitivity and specificity of the GTMD test for MTBC in patients were 97 and 58%, respectively, taking the culture combination as the gold standard. When the test was compared with culture of samples from anti-TB-treated patients, the sensitivity and specificity for the test were 100 and 15%, respectively. Low specificity in treated people might arise from depressed proliferation of AFB. As the two methods target the same living bacilli, the difference is obviously notable. When the culture results and clinical findings of the patients were evaluated together (true-positive specimens), the sensitivity and specificity values of the GTMD test for all patients were 97 and 90%, respectively. However, both of these values increased to 100% for the patients receiving anti-TB treatment. These results implied that, to determine whether the patient's sputum contains living AFB, more sensitive techniques should be employed during the follow-up of the patients. These observations suggest that the GTMD method can be useful for early diagnosis of clinically and radiologically suspicious TB cases where smears are negative for Mycobacterium. In addition, the use of a GTMD test in smear-positive cases is helpful and practical in order to identify MTBC quickly. This allows more rapid treatment decisions and infection control precautions.