Agricultural soils suppressive to soilborne plant pathogens occur worldwide, and for several of these soils the biological basis of suppressiveness has been described. Two classical types of suppressiveness are known. General suppression owes its activity to the total microbial biomass in soil and is not transferable between soils. Specific suppression owes its activity to the effects of individual or select groups of microorganisms and is transferable. The microbial basis of specific suppression to four diseases, Fusarium wilts, potato scab, apple replant disease, and take-all, is discussed. One of the best-described examples occurs in take-all decline soils. In Washington State, take-all decline results from the buildup of fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. that produce the antifungal metabolite 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol. Producers of this metabolite may have a broader role in disease-suppressive soils worldwide. By coupling molecular technologies with traditional approaches used in plant pathology and microbiology, it is possible to dissect the microbial composition and complex interactions in suppressive soils.