We compared vegetation structure and species richness across a 56-yr chronosequence of six replicated age classes of dry tropical forest on the island of Providencia, Colombia, in the Southwest Caribbean. Stand age classes were determined using sequential, orthorectified panchromatic aerial photos acquired between 1944 and 1996 and Landsat 7 ETM + satellite imagery from 2000. Along the chronosequence we established 59 plots of 2 x 50 m (0.01 ha) to document changes in species richness, basal area, tree height, stem density, and sprouting ability. All woody trees and shrubs >2.5 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) were censused and measured. Although woody species density reached a peak in stands from 32 to 56 yr old, rarefaction analysis showed that species richness increased linearly with stand age and was highest in stands 56 yr old or greater. Nonparametric, abundance-based estimators of species richness also showed positive and linear associations with age. Basal area and mean tree height were positively associated with age since abandonment, while sprouting ability showed a negative relationship. Our results indicate rapid recovery of woody species richness and structural characteristics along this tropical dry forest chronosequence.