Bacterioplankton community composition was compared across 10 lakes and 14 streams within the catchment of Toolik Lake, a tundra lake in Arctic Alaska, during seven surveys conducted over three years using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified rDNA. Bacterioplankton communities in streams draining tundra were very different than those in streams draining lakes. Communities in streams draining lakes were similar to communities in lakes. In a connected series of lakes and streams, the stream communities changed with distance from the upstream lake and with changes in water chemistry, suggesting inoculation and dilution with bacteria from soil waters or hyporheic zones. In the same system, lakes shared similar bacterioplankton communities (78% similar) that shifted gradually down the catchment. In contrast, unconnected lakes contained somewhat different communities (67% similar). We found evidence that dispersal influences bacterioplankton communities via advection and dilution (mass effects) in streams, and via inoculation and subsequent growth in lakes. The spatial pattern of bacterioplankton community composition was strongly influenced by interactions among soil water, stream, and lake environments. Our results reveal large differences in lake-specific and stream-specific bacterial community composition over restricted spatial scales (<10 km) and suggest that geographic distance and connectivity influence the distribution of bacterioplankton communities across a landscape.