Root distribution was studied in the surface soil of a natural stand of longleaf pine in the coastal plain of southwestern Alabama. Trees were selected in replicated competition and age classes, and four main lateral roots were excavated for each tree. Lateral roots were at an average soil depth of 8.1 cm and were highly intermixed from the different trees throughout the surface soil layer. Lateral roots on overmature trees originated from the taproot at 20.4 cm, much deeper than for all other trees. Lateral root length and spread increased with improved competitive position of the tree and with age up to maturity. Forest Sci. 23:161-166.