This study provides evidence that egg-parasitic nematophagous fungi, Pochonia chlamydosporia, Pochonia rubescens and Lecanicillium lecanii, can also reduce root colonisation and root damage by a fungal pathogen. Interactions of nematophagous fungi with the take-all fungus, Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici (Ggt), and their influence on severity of the root disease it causes were studied in laboratory and pot experiments. In Petri dish experiments the three nematophagous fungi reduced colonisation of barley roots by Ggt and also reduced necrotic symptoms. On the contrary, root colonisation by nematophagous fungi was unaffected by Ggt. In growth tube experiments, the three nematophagous fungi again reduced Ggt root colonisation and increased effective root length of barley seedlings. This was true for both simultaneous and sequential inoculation of nematophagous fungi versus Ggt. In the pot experiments the inoculum of the tested fungi in soil was applied in the same pot, as a mixture or in layers, or in coupled pots used for wheat grown with a split-root system. The nematophagous fungi P. chlamydosporia (isolate 4624) and L. lecanii (isolate 4629), mixed with Ggt or in split root systems with the pathogen, promoted growth of wheat (i.e. increased shoot weight), although no disease reduction was found. In split root systems, lower levels of peroxidase activity were found in seedlings inoculated with Ggt in combination with the nematophagous isolates 4624 and 4629 than when the take-all fungus was applied alone.Our results show that nematophagous fungi reduce root colonisation by Ggt, root damage and stress induced senescence in Ggt-inoculated plants. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.