Soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) is a versatile and important agronomic crop grown worldwide. Each year millions of dollars of potential yield revenues are lost due to a root rot disease caused by the oomycete Phytophthora sojae (Kaufmann & Gerdemann). Since the root is the primary site of infection by this organism, we undertook an examination of the physicochemical barriers in soybean root, namely, the suberized walls of the epidermis and endodermis, to establish whether or not preformed suberin (i.e. naturally present in noninfected plants) could have a role in partial resistance to P. sojae. Herein we describe the anatomical distribution and chemical composition of soybean root suberin as well as its relationship to partial resistance to P. sojae. Soybean roots contain a state I endodermis (Casparian bands only) within the first 80 mm of the root tip, and a state II endodermis (Casparian bands and some cells with suberin lamellae) in more proximal regions. A state III endodermis (with thick, cellulosic, tertiary walls) was not present within the 200-mm-long roots examined. An exodermis was also absent, but some walls of the epidermal and neighboring cortical cells were suberized. Chemically, soybean root suberin resembles a typical suberin, and consists of waxes, fatty acids, ω-hydroxy acids, α,ω-diacids, primary alcohols, and guaiacyl- and syringyl-substituted phenolics. Total suberin analysis of isolated soybean epidermis/outer cortex and endodermis tissues demonstrated (1) significantly higher amounts in the endodermis compared to the epidermis/outer cortex, (2) increased amounts in the endodermis as the root matured from state I to state II, (3) increased amounts in the epidermis/outer cortex along the axis of the root, and (4) significantly higher amounts in tissues isolated from a cultivar ('Conrad') with a high degree of partial resistance to P. sojae compared with a susceptible line (OX760-6). This latter correlation was extended by an analysis of nine independent and 32 recombinant inbred lines (derived from a 'Conrad' 3 OX760-6 cross) ranging in partial resistance to P. sojae: Strong negative correlations (20.89 and 20.72, respectively) were observed between the amount of the aliphatic component of root suberin and plant mortality in P. sojae-infested fields.