The impact of copper amendment on the bacterial community in agricultural soil was investigated by a 2-year field experiment complemented by short-term microcosm studies. In the field, the amendments led to total copper contents that were close to the safety limits laid down by European authorities. In parallel, bioavailable copper was determined with a copper-specific bioluminescent Pseudomonas reporter strain. The amounts of total Cu as well as of bioavailable Cu in the field declined throughout the experiment. Bacterial community structure was examined by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of community DNA amplified with primers specific for 16S rDNA from the Bacteria domain, the Rhizobium-Agrobacterium group and the Cytophaga group. Similarity analysis of T-RFLP profiles from field samples demonstrated an impact of copper at the domain level and within the Rhizobium-Agrobacterium group. Comparable Cu effects were observed for microcosms, but in addition an impact on community structure within the Cytophaga group was observed.