Radon, CO2 and delta(13)C in soil gas were measured at three active subduction-related stratovolcanoes (Arenal and Poas. Costa Rice; Galeras, Colombia). In general, Rn, CO2 and delta(13)C values are higher on the lower flanks of the volcanoes, except near fumaroles in the active craters. The upper flanks of these volcanoes have low Rn concentrations and light delta(13)C values. These observations suggest that diffuse degassing of magmatic gas on the upper flanks of these volcanoes is negligible and that more magmatic degassing occurs on the lower flanks where major faults and greater fracturing in the older lavas can channel magmatic gases to the surface. These results are in contrast to findings for Mount Etna where a broad halo of magmatic CO2 has been postulated to exist over much of the edifice. Differences in radon levels among the three volcanoes studied here may result from differences in age, the degree of fracturing and faulting, regional structures or the level of hydrothermal activity. Volcanoes, such as those studied here, act as plugs in the continental crust, focusing magmatic degassing towards crater fumaroles, faults and the fractured lower flanks.