This study investigated the structure, diversity and composition of the regenerating shrub-tree species community along a stretch of riparian vegetation in relation to environmental heterogeneity. In the Environmental Protection Area of Pandeiros River, southeastern Brazil, the regenerating stratum on 70 plots (25 m2) divided into four groups according to their soil characteristics and natural barriers was sampled. For each plot observations were made of variables related to several soil properties, canopy openness and flooding regime. In addition to the traditional calculation of phytosociological parameters and diversity, a canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) to examine the existing relationships between environmental variables and species distribution was performed. The families with the highest species richness were Fabaceae and Myrtaceae and the species with the highest importance value indices were Zygia latifolia, Tapirira guianensis, Butia capitata, Bauhinia rufa and Hirtella gracilipes. The CCA largely confirmed the groups that were originally proposed. The stretch of riparian vegetation studied was highly heterogeneous with regard to both the abiotic variables tested and floristic structure and composition.