Cerrena unicolor, Ganoderma applanatum, Ischnoderma resinosum and Poria medulla-panis were associated with birch wood that had been selectively delignified in the forest. Preferential lignin degradation was not uniformly distributed throughout the decayed wood. A typical white rot causing a simultaneous removal of all cell wall components was also present. In the delignified wood, 95 to 98% of the lignin was removed as well as substantial amounts of hemicelluloses. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy were used to identify the micromorphological and ultrastructural changes that occurred in the cells during degradation. In delignified areas the compound middle lamella was extensively degraded causing a defibration of cells. The secondary wall, especially the S2 layer, remained relatively unaltered. In simultaneously white-rotted wood all cell wall layers were progressively removed from the lumen toward the middle lamella causing erosion troughs or holes to form. Large voids filled with fungal mycelia resulted from a coalition of degraded areas. Birch wood decayed in laboratory soil-block tests was also intermittently delignified. Selective delignification, sparsely distributed throughout the wood, and a simultaneous rot resulting in the removal of all cell wall components were evident. Scanning electron microscopy appears to be an efficient technique for examining decayed wood for fungi with the capacity to selectively delignify wood.