Tomato growers in Shandong Province, China, commonly face heavy root-knot nematode infestations. Current methods of control include cadusafos and methyl bromide (MeBr), but alternative methods are required because of the high toxicity of these pesticides and the ecological risk of their use. Therefore, abamectin soil applications were evaluated for their potential to control soil nematodes in a series of laboratory tests, greenhouse pot experiments and field trials. Laboratory tests showed that abamectin exhibited rapid knockdown of Meloidogyne incognita, with LC(50) and LC(90) values that were superior to those of cadusafos and averaged 7.06 and 21.81 mg L(-1). In the greenhouse pot experiment, soil applications of abamectin provided significant M. incognita control similar to that provided by cadusafos while maintaining excellent plant height and vigour. In the field trials, abamectin exhibited excellent control effects to nematodes while giving a higher tomato yield. There was a 19.3-39.0% yield increase from the various treatments compared with the control, and the best results were obtained from the highest dose of abamectin. The results of this study demonstrated that abamectin has the potential to be used as an effective alternative to MeBr and cadusafos for nematode control in tomato production in Shandong Province.