The standing stock and taxonomic composition of zooplankton (>200 μm) were monitored in the lagoon of Tikehau atoll from April 1985 to April 1986. These data were supplemented by two 10 d studies on the variability, structure and functioning of the pelagic ecosystem. The biomass of animals >200 μm comprised 50% of the total biomass of all organisms from 35 to >2000 μm. The zooplankton populations were characterized by successive blooms of copepods, larvaceans, pteropods and salps, probably arising from the periodic input of detritus from the reef during windy periods. As a result, the ecosystem was not in a steady state and the data for the fluxes of organic matter are presented separately for April 1985 and April 1986. Using the C:N:P ratio method, net growth efficiencies, K2, were calculated for total mesozooplankton, mixed copepods, and two planktonic species, Undinula vulgaris and Thalia democratica. Combined with nitrogen and phosphorus excretion rates, these K2 values enabled the assessment of production rates. On a 24 h basis, P:B ratios (%) were close to 100 for the total zooplankton and 54, 34 and 800 for mixed copepods, U. vulgaris and T. democratica, respectively. These ratios are 5.7 times lower than that recorded for phytoplankton. High productivity may be ascribable to the high density of seston, the high temperature (29.5°C), and the kind of organisms present. Zooplankton production equalled 38 and 30% of 14C uptake during April 1985 and April 1986, respectively. Ingestion of animals >35μm was calculated by means of assimilation efficiencies and amounted to 17 and 7% of particulate organic carbon, 100 and 38% of living carbon, and 64 and 140% of primary production during the two periods, respectively. Finally, inorganic exduring was 32 and 18% of phytoplankton nitrogen and phosphorus requirements. A model based on the dimensional structure of the pelagic food-web, has been drawn to illustrate the biomass and carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes in the study area. The lagoon appears to export part of its planktonic biomass, which is 4.2 times lower one sea mile outside the main pass connecting the lagoon to the open ocean.