Three species of Phytophthora, P. cambivora, P. citricola and P. cactorum, were found to be associated with a recent outbreak of ink disease causing high mortality of chestnut trees in central Italy. Phytophthora cambivora was isolated from 11·6% of the soil samples taken around symptomatic trees, and was mainly associated with heavily diseased trees. It was the most aggressive species to Castanea sativa, but survived poorly in the soil. Phytophthora citricola and P. cactorum showed a limited ability to induce disease on chestnut, but could be recovered from soil during most of the year. A fourth species, P. gonapodyides, was recovered only from mud of stream beds within the chestnut stands. Involvement of these species in the development of disease is discussed.