Ultrastructural cytohistochemical techniques showed presence of acid and alkaline phosphatases in dental plaque. Both phosphatases had intra- and extramicrobial localization. In the extracellular matrix, phosphatases were associated with small vesicles of bacterial origin, or were freely scattered in the matrix without apparent connection with microbial structures. Intracellularly, alkaline (AlkP) and acid (AcP) phosphatases were observed in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, showing a different localization. The AlkP was mainly located in the periplasmic space, while AcP had a double preferential localization: along the outer surface of the cell wall and in the periplasmic space. Less frequently an intracellular phosphatase reaction was seen in the cytoplasm.