Seven populations, representing cytological race A (triploid, 3n = 51-56) and the two host races (infective and noninfective on peanut) of Meloidogyne arenaria were studied with light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Characteristics of root-knot nematodes, recently recommended as useful taxonomic traits, were reexamined among these populations, and their variability both within and between populations was ascertained. We found that stylet morphology of females and head and stylet morphologies of males and second-stage juveniles were the most reliable characters for identification. The two host races of M. arenaria could not be distinguished morphologically. Two of the populations could be separated consistently from the remainder but were not sufficiently divergent to be considered new species. These two variant populations were similar; neither produced males in culture, and they differed from the typical populations in female perineal patterns (LM) as well as in cephalic structure (SEM) and tail shape (LM) of second-stage juveniles. In morphometric studies, most characters of the variant populations differed significantly from those of the typical M. arenaria. Key words: root-knot nematodes, cytological races, host races, morphometrics, taxonomy, scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy.