Seasonal changes in the microphytoplankton assemblages were examined in the coastal zone of Bozcaada Island with regard to some major physical and chemical variables. Samples were collected from May 2000 to December 2001 at four stations. A total of 108 dinoflagellates, 102 diatoms, 1 chrysophycean, 3 dictyochophycean, and 1 prasinophycean species were identified and quantified during the study period. Diatoms and dinoflagellates were the most important in terms of species number and abundance. The maximum values of total microphytoplankton were observed at 0.5 m depth (46.2 x 10(3) cells l(-1) at st. 3) in May as this was the month when the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia pungens bloomed. Chlorophyll (chl) a concentration ranged between 0.08 (August) and 0.78 mu g l(-1) (February). May was another important month in which chlorophyll a increased (0.41-0.47 mu g l(-1)). Species diversity values (H'(log2)) ranged from 1.66 bits (June, 20 m) to 4.11 bits (November, 0.5 m). The increase was attributed to a more balanced distribution of abundance among species. The amounts of nitrate + nitrite (0.6-3.7 mu g-at N l(-1)), phosphate (0.2-0.6 mu g-at P l(-1)) and silicate (0.7-2.5 mu g-at Si l(-1)) were recorded on each sampling occasion. Nutrient concentrations and chl a values of the research area were found to be poorer than those of the many other coastal areas in the northeastern Mediterranean. The mean atomic ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus varied from 1.3 (June) to 12.9 (February). This ratio was lower than the Redfield ratio of 16 for ocean phytoplankton, and phytoplankton was potentially limited by nitrogen for most of the months. The result of this study confirms and emphasizes the oligotrophic nature of the eastern Mediterranean.