Soil waterlogging responses were examined in three Spartina patens populations along a steep flooding gradient in coastal Louisiana. Root anatomy and physiological indicators of anaerobic metabolism were examined to identify and compare flooding responses in dune, swale and marsh populations, while soil physicochemical factors were measured to characterize the three habitats. Soil waterlogging increased along the gradient from dune to marsh habitats and was accompanied by increases in root porosity (aerenchyma). Aerenchyma in marsh roots was apparently insufficient to provide enough oxygen for aerobic respiratory demand, as indicated by high root alcohol dehydrogenase activities and low energy charge ratios. Patterns of root metabolic indicators suggest that dune and swale roots generally respired aerobically, while anaerobic metabolism was important in marsh roots. However, in each population, relatively greater soil waterloging was accompanied by differences in enzyme activities leading to malate accumulation. In dune and swale roots under these circumstances, depressed adenylate energy charge ratios may have been the result of an absence of increased ethanol fermentation. These trends suggest that: 1) Aerenchyma formation was an important, albeit incomplete, long-term adaptation to the prevalent degree of soil waterlogging. 2) All populations adjusted root metabolism in response to a relative (short-term) increase in soil waterlogging.