Echinoid bioerosion is ecologically important as a limiting factor for reef growth. Diadema setosum and Echinometra mathaei are the most abundant sea urchins in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea. Bioerosion by these urchins was estimated from field experiments with urchins placed in underwater chambers. A novel methodology was developed for measuring the CaCO3 content of focal pellets and total gut contents. This method is based on measurement of the amount of gas formed by total acidification of a mixed sample. The population density of the urchins was determined for the reef flat (depth 0.6-1 m) and the reef slope (depth 6-8 m). D. setosum, which erodes 310 mg individual-1 d-1, is much less abundant on the reef flat (0.1 individuals m-2) than on the reef slope (6.4 individuals m-2). In contrast, E. mathaei, which erodes 120 mg individual-1 d-1, is more dominant on the reef flat (10.5 individuals m-2) than on the reef slope (3.7 individuals m-2). We estimate that echinoid bioerosion converts to carbonate sediments 7%11% of the total reef flat calcification and 13%-22% of the total reef slope calcification. These findings emphasize the importance of echinoid bioerosion as a structuring force in the coral reef, and its potential importance to the dynamics of reef development. However, they imply that some previous studies may have overestimated the role of echinoid bioerosion, thus possibly underestimating internal bioerosion.