Chemical and microbial properties of the forest floor were measured in 4-year-old shelterwood treatment plots in the montane coastal western hemlock biogeoclimatic zone of British Columbia, Canada, and compared to those in adjacent old-growth and 4-year-old clearcut plots. Forest floor pH, exchangeable Mg, total C and total N concentrations were similar in all three treatments. Bray-extractable P was significantly lower in humus from shelterwood plots, exchangeable Ca was significantly lower in humus from clearcut plots, and exchangeable K was significantly higher in humus from old-growth plots. Indices of available C (basal respiration rate, microbial biomass and metabolic quotient) were significantly higher in old-growth plots than in the two harvested treatment plots. The relative increase in maximum microbial metabolic rate due to the addition of organic nutrients was significantly greater in clearcut plots. Principal component analysis (PCA) ordination of humus samples based on C source utilization patterns of microbial communities (i.e., Biolog assay) showed distinctive clustering by treatment, although indices of substrate richness, evenness and diversity were the same in all three treatments. The relative utilization rates of substrates with the highest factor loadings on PCA axes 1 and 2 were dissimilar in each treatment. We conclude that forest floors can develop under shelterwood harvested stands to exhibit chemical and microbial properties atypical of either clearcut or old-growth plots.