Laboratory screening studies were conducted to evaluate the allelopathic potential of fine leaf fescues. Of the seven accessions selected from prior field evaluations for weed-suppressive ability, all inhibited root growth of large crabgrass and curly cress in laboratory assays. Grown in agar as a growth medium and in the presence of living fescue seedlings for 14 or 21 days, test species were sensitive depending on the fescue cultivars. Growth inhibition increased when fescue was grown for increasing periods of time in agar. Seedling fescues produced significant quantities of bioactive root exudates, which were released into the agar medium. Bioactive root exudates were extracted from living fescue roots by using methylene chloride. Shoot tissue was extracted in water and the aqueous extract was partitioned against hexane, ethyl acetate, and methylene chloride. Extracts were tested for inhibitory activity on seedling growth as measured by inhibition of curly cress germination and radicle elongation. Root exudates were more toxic (70% inhibition) than shoot extracts (up 40% inhibition), when formulated at 0.25 mg/ml concentration. Light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy were utilized in an attempt to identify the cellular location of production of secondary products contained in bioactive root exudates. Ultrastructural analysis indicated that the exudate is produced in actively dividing tips of fibrous root cells. The mode of release of these exudates into the environment remains unknown.