The influences of plant species and plant incubation conditions on the variability in bacterial population sizes among leaves were investigated in field and growth chamber studies. Pseudomonas syringae strains TLP2 and Cit7 were inoculated onto plants and population sizes were measured at intervals after inoculation. Total bacterial population sizes were also assessed in field studies. Levels of leaf-to-leaf variability in both P. syringae population size and bacterial community size differed significantly among plant species. For all plant species, variability among leaves in population sizes of inoculated bacteria was consistently greater than the leaf-to-leaf variability in numbers of total bacteria. Considering levels of variability in population size immediately prior to and following incubation under either wet or dry physical conditions, leaf-to-leaf variability in the population sizes of inoculated P. syringae strains increased significantly following incubation under dry, but not under wet, conditions. Measurements of leaf-to-leaf variability immediately prior to and following incubation were positively correlated regardless of whether the incubation was under wet or dry conditions, though the correlation was greater following dry incubation. These data provide insight into the biological and physical factors that may be important in generating variability in bacterial population sizes among leaves, and they have important implications for the design of appropriate strategies for sampling leaf surface microbial populations.