Consequences of sulfide toxicity on succession in wet calcareous dune slacks were investigated. Sulfide may exert an inhibitory effect on dune slack plants, but several pioneer species exhibit ROL (Radial Oxygen Loss) and thereby protect themselves against free sulfide. Under oxic conditions free sulfide will be oxiginated to harmless sulfate. However, successive species when not capable of ROL may be sensitive to free sulfide and cannot invade the area. Therefore, the occurrence of free sulfide may have a stabilizing effect on the pioneer vegetation.Data on the vertical distribution of oxygen, redox and sulfide were collected in mesocosms with Littorella uniflora or Carex nigra, with and without microbial mats and compared to control mesocosms. Also, in situ data were collected in a dune slack on the Frisian Island of Texel.In the mesocosms, free sulfide was detected only at night-time in C. nigra populated mesocosms and in unvegetated units, but not in L. uniflora vegetated mesocosms. In the field, sulfide and redox profiles showed distinct differences between the groundwater exfiltration and infiltration site of the dune slack. At the exfiltration site, sulfide was only occasionally found; in contrast, measurable amounts of free sulfide were regularly found at the infiltration site of the slack.Since Phragmites australis dominates in the infiltration site of the slack, the results suggest that free sulfide accelerate the succession, rather than slowing it down by the exclusion of some plant species.Nomenclature: van der Meijden (1996) for phanerogams; Schaminée et al. (1995) for syntaxa.Abbreviations: MPN = Most probable number; ROL = Radial oxygen loss.