Biofilms were allowed to develop on wooden slides of the River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh., Myrtaceae) submerged in two billabongs of south-eastern Australia. The slides were placed in the photic zone and the aphotic zone, and the biofilms sampled after eight week''s growth over the summer of 1989–1990 and winter of 1990. Bacterial numbers, estimated with epifluorescence microscopy, ranged from 4–78 × 106 cells cm–2. Bacteria were more abundant in the photic zone than the aphotic zone, and more abundant in summer than winter. Fewer than 0.5% of the bacteria could be cultivated on nutrient agar plates. Concentrations of phospholipids ranged from 8–79 ng cm–2, which corresponded to bacterial abundances of 2–17 × 106 cells cm–2. Fifty five phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) were identified, of which 16:0 (13–29% of total PFLA) was the most common. Other abundant PFLA included 16:17c (6–28%), 18:26 (3–16%), 18:33 (4–12%), 18:19c (3–5%), 18:l7c (5–11%) and 18:0 (2–8%). Minor PLFA included 14:0, i and a 15:0, 15:0, 16:l5c, 16:113c, 18:36, 18:43, 20:46 and 20:53. The PLFA profiles of the biofilms were quite different from those of the sediments and plankton. There was a clear distinction between the PLFA profiles of summer and winter biofilms, but less evidence for unequivocal site or light-regime effects.