Distribution of total and fecal coliform bacteria in three Atlantic coastal plain soils in Virginia were monitored in situ over a 3-year period. The soils studied were Varina, Goldsboro, and Beltsville sandy loams. These and similar soils are found extensively along the populous Atlantic seaboard of the United States. They are considered only marginally suitable for septic tank installation because the restricting soil layers result in the subsequent development of seasonal perched water tables. To determine both horizontal and vertical movement of indicator organisms, samples were collected from piezometers placed at selected distances and depths from the drainfields in the direction of the ground water flow. Large reductions in total and fecal coliform bacteria were noted in the perched ground waters above the restricting layers as distance from the drainfield increased. These restricting soil layers appear to be effective barriers to the vertical movement of indicator organisms. The reduction in the density of the coliform bacteria above the restricting soil layers can probably be attributed to dilution, filtration, and dieoff as the bacteria move through the natural soil systems.