The present study evaluated the pest constraints of an innovative crop management system in Cameroon involving conservation tillage and direct seedingmulch-based strategies.We hypothesized that the presence of mulch (i) would support a higher density of phytophagous arthropods particularly millipedes as well as pathogenic fungi that cause severe damage to cotton seedlings and (ii) would reduce early aphid infestations.The impact of two cover-crop mulches Calopogonium mucunoides and Brachiaria ruziziensis on the vigour of seedling cotton stands and arthropod damage was assessed in two independent field experiments conducted in 2001 and 2002 respectively. In both experiments the presence ofmulch negatively affected cotton seedling stand - by 13-14 % compared to non-mulched plots and the proportion of damaged seedlings was higher in mulched than in non-mulched plots supporting the hypothesis that mulch favoured soil pest damage. In both experiments insecticidal seed dressing increased the seedling stand and the number of dead millipedes collected and fungicide had little or no effect on seedling stand and vigour. It was however observed in 2002 that the fungicide seed dressing had a positive effect on seedling stand in non-mulched plots but not in mulched plots suggesting that fungi may have been naturally inhibited by B. ruziziensis mulch. The dynamics of aphid colonization was not influenced by the presence of mulch. In 2001 taller seedlings were found in mulched than non-mulched plots probably due to greater water and nutrient availability in C. mucunoides -mulched plots than in non-mulched plots.