Laguna Bufeos is a floodplain lake of the river lchilo, a tributary of the Amazon basin situated in Bolivia. Nutrient addition assays involving whole water (< 200 mu m) as well as fractionated water (< 0.8 mu m) treatments were carried out in incubation tubes to test whether bacterial growth is limited by the availability of inorganic nutrients and to test whether bacteria are able to utilize inorganic nutrients directly or are stimulated by inorganic nutrients through increased production of phytoplankton. The assays were carried out during two extreme hydrological conditions, the high-water and the low-water period. During the high-water period experiment, neither N or P limited bacterial growth rates. During the low-water period, bacterial growth was P limited. Bacterial growth was stimulated in the fractionated as well as in the whole water treatments, indicating that bacterial growth was directly stimulated by P. Bacterial growth corrected for grazing losses (determined by means of dilution experiments) was significantly higher in the fractionated water containing only bacteria when compared to the whole water containing also grazers and phytoplankton. This suggests that bacterial growth was suppressed by competition with phytoplankton rather than stimulated through the production of dissolved organic matter by phytoplankton.