Part of the results of a study of subgingival plaque by darkground microscopy was used to investigate morphotype distribution at different levels within the periodontal pocket. Subgingival plaque was sampled at coronal, middle and apical levels from each of 28 approximal surfaces on 28 teeth extracted from 28 adults with untreated moderate to advanced periodontitis. Sample preparation and darkground microscopy were as described previously. The data recorded only the subgingival level at which the maximum count occurred for a given morphotype and subject. It was found that the maximum count of spirochaetes occurred most frequently at the apical level (p less than 0.05) and the maximum count of 'others' at the coronal level (p less than 0.05). Also, coccal counts showed a trend to increase the more apical the sample. Standardised darkground microscopy was able to show that the sampled subgingival level had a significant influence on plaque bacterial morphotype distribution, indicating the importance of accurate sampling of subgingival plaque at the most apical level.