In Java, Indonesia, many nutrient-poor soils are intensively reforested with Pinus merkusii (pine). Information on nutrient cycles and microorganisms involved in these cycles will benefit the management of these important forests. Here, seasonal effects on the stratification of bacterial community structure in the soil profile of a tropical pine forest are described, and differences in bacterial communities are related to chemical and physical soil parameters. Culture-independent community profiles of litter, fragmented litter and mineral soil layers were made by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rDNA-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) fragments. The community profiles of the different soil layers clustered separately, correlating with significant differences in organic matter content between the three layers. The bacterial communities appeared to be stable during the wet season of 1998. The drought in 1997, caused by the El Niño climatic effect, did not influence the bacterial communities in fragmentation and mineral soil, although moisture content and other soil parameters were markedly lower than in the wet season. However, communities in litter were influenced by drought. In the litter layer, the moisture content was significantly lower than in the fragmentation and mineral layers during the dry season. A clone library was made from a litter sample taken during the wet season. Partial sequencing of 74 clones and linking the DGGE banding positions of these clones to bands in the DGGE profile of the sample from which the clone library was derived showed considerable bacterial diversity. Alpha-proteobacteria (40.5% of the clones, of which 57% belonged to the Rhizobium-Agrobacterium group) and high-G+C content, Gram-positive bacteria (36.5%) dominated the clone library.