The dispersion of ideal test particles in electrostatic drift-wave turbulence is investigated numerically. A self-consistent model with an internal instability drive is used to obtain the turbulent two-dimensional (2D) flow-field. It is shown that nonlinear couplings lead to the formation of coherent vortical structures in the flow. The dispersion of the particles is found to be anisotropic, with the weakest dispersion in the direction of the density gradient. By distinguishing between particles trapped in structures and free particles, it is demonstrated that the trapping and subsequent displacement of particles by nonlinear vortex structures enhances the particle diffusion in the direction of the background density gradient. Conditional diffusion coefficients are obtained showing that particles trapped by the vortex structures are convected by the structures. The time a particle on the average stays trapped in the structure is closely related to the lifetime of the vortical structures. The relation between the diffusion coefficient obtained from the test particle dispersion and an effective diffusion coefficient obtained from the cross-field turbulent flux is discussed. (C) 1999 American Institute of Physics.