Testate amoebae are widely used in ecological and palaeoecological studies of peatlands, particularly as indicators of surface wetness. To ensure data are robust and comparable it is important to consider methodological factors which may affect results. One significant question which has not been directly addressed in previous studies is how sample size (expressed here as number of Sphagnum stems) affects data quality. In three contrasting locations in a Russian peatland we extracted samples of differing size, analysed testate amoebae and calculated a number of widely-used indices: species richness, Simpson diversity, compositional dissimilarity from the largest sample and transfer function predictions of water table depth. We found that there was a trend for larger samples to contain more species across the range of commonly-used sample sizes in ecological studies. Smaller samples sometimes failed to produce counts of testate amoebae often considered minimally adequate. It seems likely that analyses based on samples of different sizes may not produce consistent data. Decisions about sample size need to reflect trade-offs between logistics, data quality, spatial resolution and the disturbance involved in sample extraction. For most common ecological applications we suggest that samples of more than eight Sphagnum stems are likely to be desirable.