Human-induced and natural stress factors can affect fine roots and ectomycorrhizas. Therefore they have potential utility as indicators of environmental change. We evaluated, through meta-analysis, the magnitude of the effects of acidic deposition, nitrogen deposition, increased ozone levels, elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, and drought on fine roots and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) characteristics. Ectomycorrhizal colonization was an unsuitable parameter for environmental change, but fine root length and biomass could be useful. Acidic deposition had a significantly negative impact on fine roots, root length being more sensitive than root biomass. There were no significant effects of nitrogen deposition or elevated tropospheric ozone on the quantitative root parameters. Elevated CO2 had a significant positive effect. Drought had a significantly negative effect on fine root biomass. The negative effect of acidic deposition and the positive effect of elevated CO2 increased over time, indicating that effects were persistent contrary the other factors. The meta-analysis also showed that experimental conditions, including both laboratory and field experiments, were a major source of variation. In addition to quantitative changes, environmental changes affect the species composition of the ectomycorrhizal fungal community.