Copper has long been applied for agricultural practises. Like other metals, copper is highly persistent in the environment and biologically active long after its use has ceased. Here we present a unique study on the long-term effects (27 years) of copper and pH on soil microbial communities and on the springtail Folsomia candida an important representative of the soil macrofauna, in an experiment with a full factorial, random block design. Bacterial communities were mostly affected by pH. These effects were prominent in Acidobacteria, while Actinobacteria and Gammaroteobacteria communities were affected by original and bioavailable copper. Reproduction and survival of the collembolan F. candida was not affected by the studied copper concentrations. However, the transcriptomic responses to copper reflected a mechanism of copper transport and detoxification, while pH exerted effects on nucleotide and protein metabolism and (acute) inflammatory response. We conclude that microbial community structure reflected the history of copper contamination, while gene expression analysis of F. candida is associated with the current level of bioavailable copper. The study is a first step in the development of a molecular strategy aiming at a more comprehensive assessment of various aspects of soil quality and ecotoxicology. © 2011 American Chemical Society.