We examined potential large-scale controls over the distribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and their host plants. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that AM fungi should be more prevalent in biomes where nutrients are primarily present in mineral, and not organic, forms. Values of percentage root length colonized (%RLC) by AM fungi, AM abundance, and host plant availability were compiled or calculated from published studies to determine biome-level means. Altogether, 151 geographic locations and nine biomes were represented. Percent RLC differed marginally significantly among biomes and was greatest in savannas. AM abundance (defined as total standing root length colonized by AM fungi) varied 63-fold, with lowest values in boreal forests and highest values in temperate grasslands. Biomes did not differ significantly in the percentage of plant species that host AM fungi, averaging 75%. Contrary to the hypothesis, %RLC, AM abundance, and host plant availability were not related to the size, influx, or turnover rate of soil organic matter pools. Instead, AM abundance was positively correlated with standing stocks of fine roots. The global pool of AM biomass within roots might approach 1.4 Pg dry weight. We note that regions harboring the largest stocks of AM fungi are also particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic nitrogen deposition, which could potentially alter global distributions of AM fungi in the near future. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.