A humus soil with a pH(H2O) of 4.9 was limed to a pH of 7.5 and was incubated together with samples from unlimed and field limed (pH 6.1) soils at 5, 20 and 30°C for up to 80 days. The changes in the phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) pattern were most rapid for the bacterial community of the soil incubated at 30°C, while no changes were found in the soil incubated at 5°C. The response of the community activity to temperature was measured using the thymidine incorporation method on bacteria extracted from the soil. The bacterial community in soil incubated at 30°C became more adapted to high temperature than that in soil samples incubated at 5°C. When soil samples incubated at 30°C and 20°C were returned to 5°C for 35 days, only small changes in the PLFA pattern were found. No significant shift in community temperature adaptation was found. Thus, higher temperatures (with higher turnover) led to higher rates of change in both the PLFA pattern and the activity response to temperature, compared with lower temperatures. No effect of liming as a way of increasing substrate availability and turnover on the rate of change was observed. Changes in the PLFA pattern appeared sooner than changes in the activity response to temperature, indicating that changes in the PLFA pattern were mainly due to phenotypic acclimation and not to species replacement.