Oligotrophic bacteria were shown to exist abundantly in all layers of a rendzina forest soil throughout the year. Two-hundred-three oligotrophic bacteria were isolated from forest soil (Aoba, Sendai) at different layers (L, F, H and A layers) throughout the year, and their morphological and physiological characteristics were examined. A high proportion (95%) of the isolated oligotrophs were Gram-negative, non-spore forming bacteria. Based on the cell shape, the isolates were divided into four groups: regular rods, curved/spiral bacteria, irregular rods, and buddin and/or prosthecate bacteria. Each group of bacteria is discussed in relation to the physiological characteristics. Notably oligotrophic bacteria of different cell types showed a marked zonal distribution in respect to profile depth.