Cutin was dewaxed and removed from leaves of Ilex aquifolium L. (holly) and fruits of Malus pumila Mill, (apple) by a combination of chemical and enzymic techniques. Discs of cutin were then buried in soil under field conditions, retrieved at intervals and examined using electron microscopy. The ultrastructure of cutin before and after burial was compared with that of cuticle of intact holly leaves and apple fruits. Apple cutin was extensively eroded after being buried for 12 months, but neither apple nor holly cutin was completely degraded even after 2 years in soil. The significance of polysaccharide fibrils embedded in the cutin is discussed in relation to the patterns of cutin degradation which were observed and to the distribution of microorganisms in the decaying cutin.