The extent and condition of heather on moorland in England and Wales, and within different biogeographic regions, were estimated from a survey of 122 1-km squares. The sample was stratified using the ITE Land Classification, selecting only squares from the upland land classes (i.e. 17-28). Taking England and Wales together, the estimated areas of moorland, and heather on moorland, were 14 150 ± 810 and 11 440 ± 790 km2, respectively. The results suggest that a large proportion (47%) of the heather on moorland in England was dominant (> 50% cover) and in good condition, and only a small proportion (24%) showed growth forms associated with over-grazing and management neglect. In Wales, 43% of the heather was suppressed (<25% cover) and 38% showed signs of over-grazing and management neglect. The estimated areas of heather with greater than 25% ground cover in England and Wales were 4 030 ± 530 and 2 990 ± 560 km2, respectively. In terms of regional distribution, most heather was found to be within the west Midlands (3 410 ± 260 km2), south Wales (2 930 ± 250 km2), and north-east England (2 540 ± 320 km2) biogeographic regions. In north and south Wales, and south-west England, a large proportion of the heather was suppressed or damaged, probably by over-grazing, neglect or inappropriate management. In the more northerly biogeographic regions, where large areas of moorland are managed for red grouse Lagopus scoticus, the heather was in better condition. A large proportion of suppressed and/or damaged heather was found to be within land class 17, which predominates in Wales, the west Midlands and southwest England. The findings are discussed in relation to conservation and policy. © 1995.