Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are biotrophic symbionts colonizing about two-thirds of land plant species and found in all ecosystems. They are of major importance in plant nutrient supply and their diversity is suggested to be an important determinant of plant community composition. The diversity of the AM fungal community composition in the roots of two plant species (Agrostis capillaris and Trifolium repens) that co-occurred in the same grassland ecosystem was characterized using molecular techniques. We analysed the small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA gene amplified from a total root DNA extract using AM fungal-specific primers. A total of 2001 cloned fragments from 47 root samples obtained on four dates were analysed by restriction fragment length polymorphism, and 121 of them were sequenced. The diversity found was high: a total of 24 different phylotypes (groups of phylogenetically related sequences) colonized the roots of the two host species. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that 19 of these phylotypes belonged to the Glomaceae, three to the Acaulosporaceae and two to the Gigasporaceae. Our study reveals clearly that the AM fungal community colonizing T. repens differed from that colonizing A. capillaris, providing evidence for AM fungal host preference. In addition, our results reveal dynamic changes in the AM fungal community through time.