Pathogen detection and genetic characterization has dramatically changed in recent years. Clinical laboratories are transitioning from traditional culture and primer-specific sequencing to more robust and rapid nucleic acid testing such as real-time PCR and meta-genomic characterization, respectively. Specimen collection is the first step in any downstream molecular diagnostic procedure. PrimeStore Molecular Transport Medium (MTM) is an optimized blend of nucleic acid stabilizing reagents that includes a non-specific internal positive control that can be amplified using real-time RT–PCR for tracking the integrity of a specimen from the point of collection to detection. PrimeStore MTM is shown here to effectively kill pathogens, including highly pathogenic H5 influenza virus, inactivate nucleases and to protect and preserve released RNA at ambient temperature for up to 30 days for downstream real-time and traditional RT–PCR detection and genetic characterization. PrimeStore MTM is also compatible with a variety of commercial extraction kits. PrimeStore is suited for routine clinical specimens and has added utility for field collection in remote areas, triage centres, border crossings and during pandemics where cold-chain, transport, and dissemination of potentially infectious pathogens are a concern.