Four similar, agricultural soils with distinct nematode communities were used to determine the extent to which soil and inoculum factors affected nematode community structure. The soils all had a sandy loam texture from the same geographical area and had been in pasture or arable rotation for the last 10 years. Treatments were established in pots containing a middle layer of frozen defaunated soil, sandwiched between an inoculum that was either fresh soil from the same site ('self') or a mixture of soils to give a more diverse inoculum ('mixed'). Principal component analysis indicated that a single soil type given different inocula developed different community structures (i.e., the community under 'self' differed from that under 'mixed') suggesting an inoculum effect. It was also true that different soil types under a single inoculum soil also developed different community structures (i.e., community under 'mixed' differed with soil type), suggesting a soil effect. It is likely that the nematode community structure is influenced by a combination of antecedent land use, soil factors, species introductions and inter-species competition, which should be considered in any interpretation of nematode communities as a biotic indicator.