The 1988 Yellowstone fires provided a unique opportunity to examine how the geometry of fire created patches affects plant reestablishment. We initiated studies in 1990 in small (1 ha), moderate (74-200 ha), and large (480-3968 ha) crown-fire patches in each of 3 areas. Lodgepole pine forest is reestablishing in most burned areas, but seedling density varies by two orders of magnitude. At spatial scales <100 m, lodgepole seedling density declines with the distance from the patch edge. Resprouting of herbaceous vegetation led to prompt revegetation in burned patches of all sizes, suggesting within-patch survival is a dominant recovery mechanism for grasses, forbs, and shrubs. Some annuals (e.g, Gayophytum diffusum) achieved greater densities in large vs. small crown-fire patches and colonized large patches more rapidly. Post-fire plant reestablishment in Yellowstone appears rapid and autogenic even in large burns, and the relative importance of factors controlling early postfire succession varies with spatial scale. [Abstract only.] © by the Ecological Society of America. Abstracts reproduced by permission.