Green manuring practices can influence soil microbial community composition and function and there is a need to investigate the influence compared with other types of organic amendment. This study reports long-term effects of green manure amendments on soil microbial properties, based on a field experiment started in 1956. In the experiment, various organic amendments, including green manure, have been applied at a rate of 4 t C ha(-1) every second year. Phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA) indicated that the biomass of bacteria, fungi and total microbial biomass, but not arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, generally increased due to green manuring compared with soils receiving no organic amendments. Some differences in abundance of different microbial groups were also found compared with other organic amendments (farmyard manure and sawdust) such as a higher fungal biomass and consequently a higher fungal/bacterial ratio compared with amendment with farmyard manure. The microbial community composition (PLFA profile) in the green manure treatment differed from the other treatments, but there was no effect on microbial substrate-utilization potential, determined using the Biolog EcoPlate. Protease and arylsulphatase activities in the green manure treatment were comparable to a mineral fertilized treatment receiving no additional C, whereas acid phosphatase activity increased. It can be concluded that green manuring had a beneficial impact on soil microbial properties, but differed in some aspects to other organic amendments which might be attributed to differences in quality of the amendments.