Root biomass, net primary production and turnover were studied in aspen, jack pine and black spruce forests in two contrasting climates. The climate of the Southern Study Area (SSA) near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is warmer and drier in the summer and milder in the winter than the Northern Study Area (NSA) near Thompson, Manitoba, Canada. Ingrowth soil cores and minirhizotrons were used to quantify fine root net primary production (NPPFR). Average daily fine root growth (m m−2 day−1) was positively correlated with soil temperature at 10-cm depth (r2 = 0.83–0.93) for all three species, with black spruce showing the strongest temperature effect. At both study areas, fine root biomass (measured from soil cores) and fine root length (measured from minirhizotrons) were less for jack pine than for the other two species. Except for the aspen stands, estimates of NPPFR from minirhizotrons were significantly greater than estimates from ingrowth cores. The core method underestimated NPPFR because it does not account for simultaneous fine root growth and mortality. Minirhizotron NPPFR estimates ranged from 59 g m−2 year−1 for aspen stands at SSA to 235 g m−2 year−1 for black spruce at NSA. The ratio of NPPFR to total detritus production (aboveground litterfall + NPPFR) was greater for evergreen forests than for deciduous forests, suggesting that carbon allocation patterns differ between boreal evergreen and deciduous forests. In all stands, NPPFR consistently exceeded annual fine root turnover and the differences were larger for stands in the NSA than for stands in the SSA, whereas the difference between study areas was only significant for black spruce. The imbalance between NPPFR and fine root turnover is sufficient to explain the net accumulation of carbon in boreal forest soils.