The relationship was studied between shoot biomass, nutrient concentration in the soil and number of species per unit area. The study was carried out in two different parts of the Netherlands, the Gelderse Vallei (east of Amersfoort) and the Westbroekse Zodden (northwest of Utrecht). Four series of vegetation and soil samples were taken: one series in grassland and wetland communities, one series in grassland communities, one series in fen communities and one series in only one wetland community. The two series in grassland communities show a negative correlation between shoot biomass and species number and a positive correlation between shoot biomass and nutrient concentration in the soil. The opposite was found in the series in the fen communities: there was a positive correlation between species number and shoot biomass and a negative correlation between shoot biomass and nutrient concentrations. The series of samples that had been taken in only one wetland community showed an optimum curve for the relation between shoot biomass and number of species. It is concluded that in the plant communities studied the species richness per unit area increases with increasing productivity at low production levels (< 400–500 g/m2) and decreases with increasing productivity at higher production levels (> 400–500 g/m2).