The role of antibiotics in biological control of soilborne pathogens, and more generally in microbial antagonism in natural disease-suppressive soils, often has been questioned because of the indirect nature of the supporting evidence. In this study, a protocol for high pressure liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry is described that allowed specific identification and quantitation of the antibiotic 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (Phl) produced by naturally occurring fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. on roots of wheat grown in a soil suppressive to take-all of wheat. These results provide, for the first time, biochemical support for the conclusion of previous work that Phl-producing fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. are key components of the natural biological control that operates in take-all-suppressive soils in Washington State. This study also demonstrates that the total amount of Phl produced on roots of wheat by P. fluorescens strain Q2-87, at densities ranging from approximately 105 to 107 CFU/g of root, is proportional to its rhizosphere population density and that Phl production per population unit is a constant (0.62 ng/105 CFU). Thus, Phl production in the rhizosphere of wheat is strongly related to the ability of the introduced strain to colonize the roots.