The dynamics of Heterodera glycines spatial patterns were studied under different tillage systems in two naturally infested soybean fields in Iowa from 1994 to 1997. At each location, there were four different tillage treatments (conventional tillage, reduced tillage, ridge tillage, and no tillage). Soil samples were taken from 98 contiguous quadrats (5.2 m2) per plot in the fall of 1994, before any tillage was performed, and in the spring of the following 3 years shortly after planting. Cysts were extracted from soil samples by elutriation and counted, and eggs were extracted from cysts and enumerated. Spatial patterns of H. glycines populations were characterized by geostatistical analysis and variance-to-mean (VM) ratios. Semivariance values were calculated for cyst and egg densities and semivariograms were constructed. In general, there was greater spatial dependence among cyst populations than egg populations. In one field with a strongly aggregated initial H. glycines population, tillage practices resulted in changes in spatial patterns of H. glycines populations, characterized by spherical-model semivariogram parameters (sill, nugget effect, and range of spatial dependence). These parameters indicated increasing aggregation over time in no tillage and ridge tillage treatments, but decreasing aggregation in reduced and conventional tillage treatments. There was an increase of 350% in sill values (maximum semivariance) for cyst populations after 3 years of no tillage, but in the conventional tillage treatment, sill values remained unchanged or decreased over time as tillage was implemented. Semivariograms for cyst and egg population densities revealed strong anisotropy (directional spatial dependence) along soybean rows, coincident with the direction of tillage practices. VM ratios for cyst counts increased each year in the no tillage and ridge tillage treatments, but decreased for 2 years in reduced tillage and conventional tillage treatments. Final VM ratios for cyst and egg counts were highest in the no tillage treatment. In a second field, with low initial aggregation of H. glycines populations, there was little measurable change in semivariogram parameters after 3 years of no tillage, but in the conventional tillage treatment, populations became less aggregated, as the range, sill, and the proportion of the sill explained by spatial dependence decreased for cyst population densities. Our results indicated that in soybean fields with initially aggregated populations of H. glycines, no tillage and ridge tillage systems promoted aggregation of the nematode population, whereas conventional and reduced tillage systems resulted in a less aggregated spatial pattern.