Egg masses of Meloidogyne fallax from tomato and potato growing in soil from a nematode suppressive and a nonsuppressive field sustained bacterial population densities two to three orders of magnitude higher than those of the rhizosphere soil. BIOLOG metabolic profiling identified 16 bacterial species from egg masses. Results further indicated 20 species not listed in the BIOLOG database. 122 isolates of bacteria and 19 isolates of fungi from M. fallax or M. hapla were tested for in vitro antagonism against the nematode egg parasitic fungus Verticillium chlamydosporium: 23% of the bacteria and 74% of the fungi showed antagonistic activity. Pseudomonads showed an overall stronger antagonistic activity than the other bacteria. Our conclusions are that Meloidogyne egg masses are a densely populated microbial niche and that their microflora may well be an important factor in determining the success of nematode antagonists. However, we could not find a relationship between the egg mass microflora and differences in soil suppressiveness between the sample sites.