Soil samples (0·04 m-2) were taken from December to January in 1981-82 and 1982-83 from five crop and two non-crop habitats on farmland in Hampshire to quantify the distribution and abundance of overwintering polyphagous predatory arthropods. Total numbers of overwintering polyphagous predators were greater in field boundaries, winter-sown cereals and established grassland than in the other four habitats. Many individual species overwintered in significantly higher densities in field boundaries than in any other habitat; others predominated in woodland, grassland and winter-sown cereals. The carabids Agonum dorsale and Demetrias atricapillus, probably the most important predators of cereal aphids, overwintered almost entirely in field boundaries.