Bovine mastitis, an inflammatory disease of the mammary gland, is one of the most costly diseases affecting the dairy industry. The treatment and prevention of this disease is linked heavily to the use of antibiotics in agriculture and early detection of the primary pathogen is essential to control the disease. Milk samples (n=67) from cows suffering from mastitis were analyzed for the presence of pathogens using PCR electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry (PCR/ESI-MS) and were compared with standard culture diagnostic methods. Concurrent identification of the primary mastitis pathogens was obtained for 64% of the tested milk samples, whereas divergent results were obtained for 27% of the samples. The PCR/ESI-MS failed to identify some of the primary pathogens in 18% of the samples, but identified other pathogens as well as microorganisms in samples that were negative by culture. The PCR/ESI-MS identified bacteria to the species level as well as yeasts and molds in samples that contained a mixed bacterial culture (9%). The sensitivity of the PCR/ESI-MS for the most common pathogens ranged from 57.1 to 100% and the specificity ranged from 69.8 to 100% using culture as gold standard. The PCR/ESI-MS also revealed the presence of the methicillin-resistant gene mecA in 16.2% of the milk samples, which correlated with the simultaneous detection of staphylococci including Staphylococcus aureus. We demonstrated that PCR/ESI-MS, a more rapid diagnostic platform compared with bacterial culture, has the significant potential to serve as an important screening method in the diagnosis of bovine clinical mastitis and has the capacity to be used in infection control programs for both subclinical and clinical disease.