Cerebral toxoplasmosis is the most common cerebral focal lesion in AIDS and still accounts for high morbidity and mortality in Brazil. Its occurrence is more frequent in patients with low CD4+ T-cell counts. It is directly related to the prevalence of anti-Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in the population. Therefore, it is important to evaluate sensitive, less invasive, and rapid diagnostic tests. We evaluated the value of PCR using peripheral blood samples on the diagnosis of cerebral toxoplasmosis and whether its association with immunological assays can contribute to a timely diagnosis. We prospectively analyzed blood samples from 192 AIDS patients divided into two groups. The first group was composed of samples from 64 patients with cerebral toxoplasmosis diagnosed by clinical and radiological features. The second group was composed of samples from 128 patients with other opportunistic diseases. Blood collection from patients with cerebral toxoplasmosis was done before or on the third day of anti-toxoplasma therapy. PCR for T. gondii, indirect immunofluorescence, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and an avidity test for toxoplasmosis were performed on all samples. The PCR sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of cerebral toxoplasmosis in blood were 80% and 98%, respectively. Patients with cerebral toxoplasmosis (89%) presented higher titers of anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies than patients with other diseases (57%) (P < 0.001). These findings suggest the clinical value of the use of both PCR and high titers of anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies for the diagnosis of cerebral toxoplasmosis. This strategy may prevent more invasive approaches.