Background and Aims Plant roots’ growth direction has important implications for plant development and survival; moreover it plays an effective and vital role in stabilizing weathered soil on a steep slope. The aim of this work was to assess the influence of slope on the architecture of woody root systems. MethodsFive mature, single-stemmed Quercus pubescens trees growing on a steep slope and five on a shallow slope were excavated to a root diameter of 1 cm. A very precise numeric representation of the geometry and topology of structural root architecture was gained using a low-magnetic-field digitizing device (Fastrak, Polhemus). Several characteristics of root architecture were extracted by macros, including root volume, diameter, length, number, spatial position and branching order. Key Results The diameter at breast height (dbh) was the best predictor of the root volume but had no correlation with length and number of roots. The slope affected the root volume for each branching order, and the basal cross-sectional area (CSA), number and length of the first-order roots. Number and length of the second- and third-order laterals were closely related in both conditions, although this relationship was closer in the shallow trees, suggesting the influence of a genetic control. Sloping trees showed a clustering tendency of the first- and second-order lateral roots in the up-slope direction, suggesting that the laterals rather than the taproots provide much of the anchorage. In a steep-slope condition, the taproot tapering was positively correlated with the asymmetry magnitude of first-order roots, indicating compensation between taproot and main lateral roots’ clustering tendency. Conclusions These results suggest that on a slope, on clayey soils, root asymmetry appears to be a consequence of several environmental factors such as inclination, shallow-slides and soil compactness. In addition, this adaptive growth seems to counteract the turning moment induced by the self-loading forces acting in slope conditions, and as a consequence improves the tree stability.