The objective of the present work was to examine the effects of phosphate fertilizers on the microbial activity of pasture soils. Various microbial characteristics were measured using soils from an existing long- term phosphate fertilizer field trial and a short-term incubation experiment. The measurements included basal respiration, substrate induced respiration, inhibition of substrate-induced respiration by streptomycin sulphate (fungal activity) and actidione (bacterial activity) and microbial biomass C. The long-term field trials was initiated during 1985 to examine the effectiveness of different sources of phosphate fertilizers (single superphosphate, North Carolina phosphate rock, partially acidulated North Carolina phosphate rock, and diammonium phosphate) on pasture yield. The incubation experiment was conducted for 8 weeks using the same soil and the sources of phosphate fertilizers used in the field trial. In the incubation experiment the fertilizer addition caused an initial decrease in basal and substrate- induced respiration but had no effect on total microbial biomass. The initial decline in basal and substrate-induced respiration with the fertilizer addition was restored within 8 weeks after incubation. In the field experiment the fertilizer addition had no significant effect on basal respiration but increased substrate-induced respiration and microbial biomass C. The short-term and the long-term effects of phosphate fertilizer addition on the microbial characteristics of the soils are discussed in relation to its effects on pH, salt concentration, and the nutrient status of the soils.