Isolation of symbiont and associated fungi from ectomycorrhizas of Sitka spruce from three Irish forest plantations is described. Frequent emergence of dark sterile mycelia and Oidiodendron spp., predominantly O. maius, restricted the recovery of potential symbionts. Inhibition of the former by benomyl resulted in a sixfold increase in basidiomycetes isolated. Pure culture syntheses confirmed the ectomycorrhizal ability of potential symbiont isolates and demonstrated the parasitic nature of dark sterile mycelial types. Antagonism of Mycelium radicis atrovirens, Phytophthora cinnamomi and Heterobasidion annosum by O. maius observed in paired cultures supports the possible involvement of this species in biological control of conifer root pathogens.