Both light and soil fungi are important determinants of early regeneration success in tree species, but few studies have examined their role simultaneously. The ability to withstand pathogens in the shaded conditions of closed-canopy forests can reinforce species' shade-tolerance. For four species of tropical trees with varying life history strategies'two shade-tolerant and two shade-intolerant'we conducted an in situ field experiment to examine the interactive effects of fungal pathogens, light, and seed density on germination and early seedling establishment in a fragmented forest in Western Ghats, India. For each species, seeds were sown into 1x1 m plots containing soil from underneath parent trees, with each plot assigned to high light or shaded understory, high or low density, and fungicide or no fungicide application, in a fully factorial design. We analyzed probabilities of cumulative seedling emergence and final seedling establishment using generalized linear mixed-models with a logit link. Shade-intolerant species were strongly constrained by light. Fungicide application improved seedling emergence, but not final seedling establishment, for shade-intolerant Toona ciliata, and gains from fungicide application were significantly higher in shade. Light was the only factor affecting seedling emergence of shade-intolerant Macaranga peltata, but seedlings finally survived only in plots in high light treated with fungicide. Conversely, shade-tolerant Olea dioica and Heritiera papilio recruited equally well in light and shade. Recruitment of both shade-tolerant species improved with fungicide application, suggesting benefits from dispersal to locations where pathogens are low. Notably, fungicide application improved recruitment of Olea to a greater degree in high light, indicating that this species could colonize high-light locations far from conspecifics. Although changes to both light availability and plant-soil feedback can potentially affect species' regeneration success, the combined role of light and pathogens is yet to be examined in the context of plant community dynamics in human-impacted forests.