Knowing the abundance of small trees is necessary for accurate calculation of gross production, total carbon and/or biomass of forest stands. The abundance of small trees can also be used to predict ingrowth into larger tree diameter classes. We present a method of predicting numbers of trees in small diameter classes using diameter distributions of larger trees in stands. A truncated two-parameter Weibull distribution was fit to large tree diameters (diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) ≥ 9.0 cm). These parameters were then used to predict the number of small trees in d.b.h. classes smaller than 9.0 cm. Three methods of predicting densities of small trees were used: (1) an extrapolation of the truncated Weibull to a full two-parameter Weibull distribution; (2) a modification of the Weibull using an empirical estimate and (3) a combined approach. While the full two-parameter Weibull distribution generally fitted the distribution of small trees, densities were typically under-predicted. The empirical method (i.e. method 2) produced the best predictions of small tree densities, with a root mean square error of 132 trees h–1 (28 per cent of mean small tree density). Overall, predicting the distribution of small trees using the distribution of large trees worked very well in this study.