The bacterial community structures (BCSs) of Cerrado soils cultivated under conventional tillage (CT), no-tillage (NT) and under native Cerrado (NC) vegetation were evaluated using PCR/DGGE of bacterial 16S rRNA (rrs) and rpoB genes and of Pseudomonas group genes. Soil chemical analysis, microbial biomass and the enzyme activities were also evaluated and correlated with the BCS measurements. The multivariate ordinations of DGGE profiles showed differences between the BCS of the NC area and those from cultivated areas. The BCSs of the CT and NT areas also differed in all DGGE fingerprints, including changes in the profile of Pseudomonas populations, indicating that agricultural systems can also be responsible for changes within specific microbial niches, although the clearest differences were found in the rpoB profiles. The MRPP analysis demonstrated significant differences between the BCSs from different soil layers of NT areas based on all gene fingerprints and those of NC areas based on bacterial 16S rRNA and rpoB genes fingerprints. No differences were observed in the microbial fingerprints of CT samples from different depths, indicating that ploughing affected the original BCS stratification. The BCS from NC areas, based on all gene fingerprints, could be related to higher levels of soil acidity and higher amounts of MBC and of phosphatase activity. In contrast, the BCSs from cultivated areas were related to higher levels of Ca + Mg, P and K, likely as a result of a history of chemical fertilisation in these areas. The relationships between rpoB and Pseudomonas BCSs and all chemical and biochemical properties of soils were significant, according to a Mantel test (P < 0.05), indicating that the different changes in soil properties induced by soil use or management may drive the formation of the soil BCS.