The acquisition also involves taking on potential liabilities involved in ongoing patent infringement litigation between MJ Research, Bio-Rad and Applied Biosystems.
MJ Research makes thermal cyclers and reagents used to amplify DNA for analysis, and its technologies complement Bio-Rad's focus on clinical diagnostics and life science research tools.
The latter business sells nucleic acid amplification tools, microarrays and electrophoresis products, as well as products directed at biopharmaceutical production.
In June, Applied Biosystems won injunctions against the manufacture and sale of some of MJ Research's thermal cyclers in Germany on the grounds that they infringe a patent awarded to Applied Biosystems' parent company Applera.
The injunction covers real-time thermal cyclers capable of performing real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing.
Having notched up sales worth $252 million in 2001, the US and European market for real-time thermal cyclers is set to fetch combined revenues of $776 million by 2006, according to data from Frost & Sullivan.
F&S has suggested that the rising popularity of microarrays in the US and European life science market acts as a complementary driver for real-time thermal cyclers, for example in the validation of microarray results using real-time PCR.
The deal is the second in recent months for Bio-Rad. In June, Germany's Carl Zeiss Jena said it would buy the company's UK-based cell science division, specialising in confocal microscopy, for an undisclosed sum.
Bio-Rad said at the time that the microscopy business would be better served in the hands of a specialist in this area, and that the divestment would allow it focus more closely on its core activities.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Bio-Rad reported a second-quarter profit Thursday of 79 cents per share, down from 86 cents a share a year ago, on revenue of $260.5 million, up 4 per cent excluding currency factors.
Income from continuing operations for the six-month period was $42.9 million an 11.8 per cent decrease on the same period last year. Bio-Rad said the shortfall was largely due to anticipated spending on infrastructure improvements.