Summary Twenty-nine fungi that were isolated from seeds and female cones of Podocarpus falcatus from natural forests in Ethiopia, were assessed for their impact on seeds and seedlings of the same host. Based on the results from in vitro seed inoculation tests, we could group the fungi into five categories as: (i) isolates that were pathogenic only to seeds and had no obvious impacts on the germlings; (ii) isolates that were pathogenic only to the germlings; (iii) isolates that were pathogenic both to seeds and the emerging germlings; (iv) isolates that were more or less harmless; and (v) isolates that were germination promoters. Inoculation tests were also performed on 4–7-day-old aseptically grown seedlings. Fusarium oxysporum and Polyporus sp., were strongly pathogenic to both seeds and seedlings, while Nectria gliocladioides, Peniophora cinerea and Pestalotiopsis neglecta also demonstrated pathogenicity but to a lesser extent. Other isolates, e.g. Diaporthe spp. resulted in increased germination of P. falcatus seeds and no pathogenicity to seedlings. However, further investigations are required in order to find out how these fungi behave under nursery or field conditions.