Acid sulphate (AS) soils along the Baltic coasts contain significant amounts of organic carbon and nitrogen in their subsoils. The abundance, composition, and activity of microbial communities throughout the AS soil profile were analysed. The data from a drained AS soil were compared with those from a drained non-AS soil and a pristine wetland soil from the same region. Moreover, the potential production of methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide from the soils was determined under laboratory conditions. Direct microscopic counting, glucose-induced respiration (GIR), whole cell hybridisation, and extended phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis confirmed the presence of abundant microbial communities in the topsoil and also in the deepest Cg2 horizon of the AS soil. The patterns of microbial counts, biomass and activity in the profile of the AS soil and partly also in the non-AS soil therefore differed from the general tendency of gradual decreases in soil profiles. High respiration in the deepest Cg2 horizon of the AS soil (5.66 μg Cg(-1)h(-1), as compared to 2.71 μg Cg(-1)h(-1) in a top Ap horizon) is unusual but reasonable given the large amount of organic carbon in this horizon. Nitrous oxide production peaked in the BCgc horizon of the AS and in the BC horizon of the non-AS soil, but the peak value was ten-fold higher in the AS soil than in the non-AS soil (82.3 vs. 8.6 ng Ng(-1)d(-1)). The data suggest that boreal AS soils on the Baltic coast contain high microbial abundance and activity. This, together with the abundant carbon and total and mineral nitrogen in the deep layers of AS soils, may result in substantial gas production. Consequently, high GHG emissions could occur, for example, when the generally high water table is lowered because of arable farming.