We investigated if the differences in density and nematode communities of intertidal sediments from two Brazilian sheltered sandy beaches were related to environmental characteristics. The upper tide level (UTL) and the low tide level (LTL) of both beaches were surveyed in January (austral summer) and June 2001 (austral winter) during low-spring tides, by collecting samples of nematodes and sediments. Differences in density between beaches, tidal level and seasons, and nematode community structure were investigated. Sediments from both beaches were composed of medium to very coarse sand. The highest nematode densities were found at the UTL, and significant differences between beaches, tidal levels and months were found. A total of 54 genera were found and the genera composition on both sheltered beaches was similar to other exposed worldwide sandy beaches. The density and structure of the nematode community at both beaches clearly varied along the spatial and temporal scales. Gravel percentage was the most important variable explaining the spatial distribution of the nematodes, determining the four sub-communities; this suggests that the sediment characteristics influence the nematode community, rather than physical hydrodynamic forces. Temperature and salinity were suggested to be important variables affecting the temporal variation.