Changes in forest structure and species diversity throughout secondary succession were studied using a chronosequence at two sites in the Bolivian Amazon. Secondary forests ranging in age from 2 to 40 years as well as mature forests were included, making a total of 14 stands. Fifty plants per forest layer (understory, subcanopy, and canopy) were sampled using the transect of variable area technique. Mean and maximum height, total stem density, basal area, and species number were calculated at the stand level. Species diversity was calculated for each stand and for each combination of forest layer and stand. A correspondence analysis was performed, and the relationship between relative abundance of the species and stand age was modeled using a set of hierarchical models. Canopy height and basal area increased with stand age, indicating that secondary forests rapidly attain a forest structure similar in many respects to mature forests. A total of 250 species were recorded of which ca 50 percent made up 87 percent of the sampled individuals. Species diversity increased with stand age and varied among the forest layers, with the lowest diversity in the canopy. The results of the correspondence analysis indicated that species composition varies with stand age, forest layer, and site. The species composition of mature forests recovered at different rates in the different forest layers, being the slowest in the canopy layer. Species showed different patterns of abundance in relation to stand age, supporting the current model of succession.