Penicillium oxalicum is a seed- and soilborne fungal pathogen that causes preemergence damping-off and postemergence seedling blight of sweet corn, While seed infection and infestation by P. oxalicum is common, the amount of injury observed in the field is variable. Our objective was to determine factors influencing the occurrence and severity of disease due to P. oxalicum. Inoculation of sh-2 sweet corn seeds with conidia of P. oxalicum reduced seedling emergence and resulted in seedling mortality. Disease severity in the greenhouse and the field was greater as inoculum density increased from ≈ 102 to 106 conidia per seed. Increasing soil temperatures after planting inoculated seed resulted in more preemergence damping-off. Penicillium oxalicum is capable of growth and sporulation in soil that is too dry for seed germination. Nontreated (naturally infected) sh-2 sweet corn seeds or seeds inoculated with P. oxalicum were incubated in pasteurized soil that had been adjusted to various moisture levels-all too low for seed germination. Increasing soil moisture was associated with visible growth of Penicillium spp. on seed after incubation, and greater levels of damping-off and seedling blight when the seed was planted.