In vitro propagated plants are delicate and lacking vigor to survive the acclimatization shock with great losses observed frequently. Comparison of potting substrates showed that survival of Podophyllum peltatum plantlets was higher (97%) in a non-sterile soil (NS)-sand (2:1 v/v) substrate than in Miracle-Gro potting mix(R)-sand (2:1 v/v) with or without inocula of arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM). The non-sterile soil substrate was collected from areas of R peltatum wild-grown colonies located on the University of Mississippi Campus. Within the group of plantlets grown in the Miracle-Gro potting mix(R)-sand substrate, the survival rate was significantly higher in plantlets inoculated with AM fungi. Plantlets inoculated with Entrophospora colombiana had a superior survival rate (73%) than plantlets inoculated with Glomus mosseae, Gigaspora ramisporophora or Scutellospora fulgida (57%). Ex vitro G. ramisporophora inoculated plants yielded more podophyllotoxin and related lignans than the control, non-inoculated plants. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.