Background: The acquisition of high-quality DNA for use in phylogenetic and molecular population genetic studies is a primary concern for evolutionary and genetic researchers. Many non-destructive DNA sampling methods have been developed and are used with a variety of taxa in applications ranging from genetic stock assessment to molecular forensics. Results: The authors have developed a field sampling method for obtaining high-quality DNA from sunfish (Lepomis) and other freshwater fish that employs a variation on the buccal swab method and results in the collection of DNA suitable for PCR amplification and polymorphism analysis. Additionally, since the circumstances of storage are always a concern for field biologists, the authors have tested the potential storage conditions of swabbed samples and whether those conditions affect DNA extraction and PCR amplification. It was found that samples stored at room temperature in the dark for over 200 days could still yield DNA suitable for PCR amplification and polymorphism detection. Conclusion: These findings suggest that valuable molecular genetic data may be obtained from tissues that have not been treated or stored under optimal field conditions. Furthermore, it is clear that the lack of adequately low tempemtures during transport and long tèrm storage should not be a barrier to anyone wishing to engage in field-based molecular genetic research.