Numbers and possible locations of N(2)-fixing bacteria were investigated in roots of Spartina alterniflora Loisel, which support nitrogenase activity in the undisturbed native habitat. N(2)-fixing bacteria were recovered in cultures both from S. alterniflora roots and from the surrounding sediment, and they formed a greater proportion of the bacteria recovered from root homogenates than from salt-marsh sediment. N(2)-fixing bacteria were recovered in high numbers from the rhizoplane of S. alterniflora after roots were treated with 1 or 5% chloramine-T for 1 h or with 1% NaOCl for 1 or 2 h. Immersing S. alterniflora roots in 5% NaOCl for 1 h was more effective in distinguishing bacteria inside the roots since this treatment nearly eliminated N(2)-fixing bacteria recoverable from the rhizoplane, although high numbers of N(2)-fixing bacteria were recovered from homogenates of roots treated with 5% NaOCl for 1 h. However, this treatment was less effective with roots of Zea mays L. (Funks G4646) and Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench (CK-60 A), indicating that techniques to surface sterilize roots should be evaluated for different plants. Bacteria were observed by light and electron microscopy inter- and intracellularly in the cortex and in the aerenchyma of S. alterniflora roots. This study clearly shows that bacteria, including N(2) fixers, colonize the interior of roots of S. alterniflora growing in a Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, salt marsh.