Penetration of root bark tissues of Picea sitchensis by Armillaria ostoyae, Armillaria mellea and Heterobasidion annosum was examined in the absence of wounds, in superficial wounds (rhytidome tissues removed to expose the secondary phloem) and in wounds to the depth of the vascular cambium (deep wounding). Both species of Armillaria penetrated bark without prior wounding, but neither species formed rhizomorphs in this treatment. Armillaria ostoyae penetrated to 39 cell layers in depth by 48 days after inoculation of unwounded bark; whereas A. mellea penetrated 25 cell layers in the same time. Armillaria mellea penetrated superficial wounds significantly more rapidly than did A. ostoyae. Both species produced rhizomorphs within wounded host tissues. Inoculation of deep wounds with Armillaria resulted in a greater depth of bark necrosis with A. mellea than with A. ostoyae. In the absence of wounding, H. annosum failed to penetrate root bark tissues, but in both superficial and deep wounds hyphae penetrated beyond the ligno-suberized boundary zone (LSZ) by 12 days after inoculation. Where no inoculations were made, superficial or deep wounding led within 25 days to the restoration of a structurally continuous LSZ, and by day 48 the wound periderm (WP) was fully differentiated. In inoculated wounds, however, formation of the LSZ and WP was delayed or inhibited in most trees, particularly following inoculation with A. ostoyae or A. mellea. Suberization in the LSZ and WP remained diffuse and discontinuous 48 days after inoculation. Moreover, the presence of WP did not prevent further penetration of the tissues by the pathogens. Variations between trees in the depth of pathogen penetration were noted, possibly indicating differing susceptibilities of individual host genotypes. The possible host factors involved in resistance to penetration of root bark tissues by Armillaria and Heterobasidion are discussed.