One of the elements of the Polish agriculture's adjustment to the principles of functioning within the frameworks of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union was the resolution of problems connected with assistance for agricultural activities in the areas characterised by unfavourable development conditions, including the adoption of criteria that make it possible to arrive at a proper stratification of individual areas. EU countries apply various methods to solve the problem. In Poland, and in its Podlaskie province, two criteria have been used to identify the areas possessing conditions unfavourable for the development of agriculture, namely the quality of agricultural production space and the size of the population. In accordance with these two criteria of classification all but three rural communes of Podlaskie province have been included in the group of areas with unfavourable development conditions. The article represents an attempt at providing an answer to the question whether the adopted classification criteria, shown against the background of other factors, including the structural-organisational ones, are essential for differentiating the agricultural space of Podlaskie province. .