Mycelial cord systems of Phanerochaete velutina (DC.: Pers.) Parmasto grown from 4 cm3 inocula on a nutrient-depleted non-sterile soil in compartmentalized laboratory microcosms were baited after 13 d of growth with either fresh, non-sterile 4 cm3 wood blocks or control Perspex® blocks of the same contact area. After 112 d, mature mycelial systems, which were in senescent phase, were subjected to disturbance by supplying a new fresh wood bait diametrically opposite the existing bait and, after 126 d, to nutrient regime amendment by application of NPK solution. At harvest (186 d) there was a significant (P0·001) linear relationship between extra-resource mycelial biomass and total wood decay over the preceding 74 d. Nutrient amendment alone did not significantly (P>0·05) affect extra-resource mycelial biomass production or wood decay rates in either disturbed or undisturbed cord systems. However, both mycelial biomass production and resource decay were significantly (P0·05) enhanced when nutrient amendment and disturbance treatments were applied concurrently. Bi-directional phosphorus translocation to inocula and wood baits (determined non-destructively) was assessed by labelling the NPK solution applied distal or proximal to the initially supplied bait with 32P. In both disturbed and undisturbed cord systems the rate of 32P uptake from a local supply was two orders of magnitude higher than from a distal supply. In disturbed cord systems uptake of 32P by inocula, which were midway between the two radiotracer supply points, was significantly (P0·05) higher when the supply point contained a newly supplied wood bait. Net translocation of 32P to newly supplied wood baits increased with time at the expense of translocation to inocula and existing wood baits. The switch in direction of net phosphorus translocation, the importance of localized nutrient scavenging and the partitioning of wood decay are discussed in relation to the ecological significance of mycelial cords.