Nutrient (P and N) enrichment experiments in small enclosures (20 l) were carried out to determine P and/or N limitation of bacterioplankton in Lake Võrtsjärv. The specific interest of the study was to test if it is possible to detect nutrient `physiological' or growth (rate) limitation of bacterioplankton and competition for nutrients (N and P) with phytoplankton in generally nutrient rich lake. Thymidine and leucine incorporation; leucine aminopeptidase, β-D-glucosidase and alkaline phosphatase activity, total count of bacteria, chlorophyll a concentration and primary production as well as the concentrations of different chemical forms of N and P were followed during 4–5 days of the experiment. To address the question of the interactions between nutrients, bacterio- and phytoplankton, experimental and seasonal data sets were included in the analyses. Phosphorus (P) had a positive effect on bacterioplankton in enclosure experiments in June 1997; no effects of nutrients were found in September 1996, while in May 1996, P affected mainly the phytoplankton. On the seasonal scale, the development of bacterioplankton was connected to primary production, total phosphorus and temperature. In enrichment experiments, bacterioplankton was mainly related with primary productivity but the possible importance of bacterial grazers could be presumed. Thus, no evidence was found for nutrient growth limitation and/or competition for N and/or P, rather bacterioplankton depended on organic food supply originating from phytoplankton.