Studies were carried out in controlled environment rooms reflecting field situations. In the presence of the devastating soilborne pathogen Phytophthora clandestina, subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum) seedling emergence was significantly affected by moisture, soil type, temperature and cultivar. The level of rotting of tap and lateral roots was significantly affected by nutrition, soil type, temperature and cultivar. There were significant interactions involving temperature, moisture, soil type and cultivar; cultivar resistance, high moisture, high or medium temperature, high nutrition and sand soil all contributed towards less pre-emergence damping-off and tap and lateral root disease and to greater clover productivity. Host resistance of subterranean clover cultivars was critical for reducing disease severity and increasing productivity, even when favourable environmental conditions for severe disease occurred. In the presence of P. clandestina, the most resistant cultivar, Seaton Park, performed best under a high temperature, high nutrition and high moisture combination, but showed lower productivity under conditions of low nutrition or lower temperature, even when moisture level was high. In contrast, less resistant cultivars Riverina and Meteora had less disease and greater productivity under low moisture conditions. Findings reflect field observations that pre-emergence damping-off and root disease from P. clandestina in subterranean clover is particularly severe under colder conditions and in nutritionally impoverished sandy soils, and demonstrate how variations in soil type, nutrition, moisture, temperature and cultivar have profound effects on the expression and severity of phytophthora pre-emergence damping-off and root disease and the productivity of subterranean clover forages.