Phytoplankton production for three size classes (<20 μm, 20–100 μm, >100 μm), total primary production and qualitative composition of phytoplankton populations were recorded from 18 stations in the south-eastern Weddell Sea in February/March 1983. Total primary production ranged between 80 and 1670 mg C m-2 d-1 with an average of 670 mg C m-2 d-1, nearly 70% of which was contributed by the <20 μm size fraction (usually pennate and/or centric diatoms). Production of phytoplankton was in the higher range of values reported by other authors for the same region. Variations in primary production could not be attributed to composition of populations, ambient light levels or concentrations of macronutrients (N, P, Si). Phytoplankton populations had a higher diversity in the deeper parts of the Weddell Sea and coincided with different oceanographic situations. Three zones (along the shelf-ice edge from Atka Bay to Halley Bay, west of Halley Bay and off the Filchner/Rønne Ice Shelf) with different communities could be clearly distinguished.