Plasticized polyvinyl chloride (pPVC) with or without incorporated biocides was buried in grassland and forest soil for up to 10 months. The change with time in viable counts of fungi on the plastic surface was followed, together with the percentage capable of clearing the two plasticizers dioctyl adipate (DOA) and dioetyl phthalate (DOP). With time fungal total viable counts (TVC) on control pPVC increased and the fraction able to clear DOA was considerably higher than the average estimated in both soil types. A total of 92 fungal morphotypes were isolated from grassland soil and 42 from forest soil with the greatest variety of fungal isolates observed on control pPVC. The incorporation of biocides into pPVC affected both fungal TVC and the richness of species isolated. The biocides NCMP [n-(trichloromethylthio)phthalimide], OBPA (10,10′-oxybisphenoxarsine) and OIT (2-n-octyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one) were the most effective in grassland soil, and TCMP [2,3,5,6-tetrachloro-4-(methylsulphonyl)pyridine] and NCMP the most effective in forest soil. In grassland soil, Penicillium janthinellum established as a principal colonizer and was recovered from all pPVC types. DOP clearers were found at much lower levels than DOA clearers, with Doratomyces spp. being the most efficient. At the end of 10 months the physical properties of the pPVC were altered; changes in stiffness were the most significant for heavily colonized grassland-buried pPVC samples, whereas in forest soil, the extensibility of the pPVC was affected more than the stiffness. These results suggest that fungi are important colonizers of pPVC buried in soil and that enrichment of soil fungi capable of clearing DOA occurs during colonization of the plastic surface. The results also demonstrate that incorporated biocides have a marked impact on the richness of species colonizing the pPVC surface. © 2006 SGM.