The biological production characteristics of the Rhodes and western Ionian basins of the eastern Mediterranean are studied by a one-dimensional, coupled physical-biological model. Tbe biological model involves single aggregated compartments of phytoplankton, zooplankton, detritus as well as ammonium and nitrate forms of the inorganic nitrogen. It interacts with the physical model through the vertical eddy diffusivity which is calculated using the Mellor-Yamada level 2.5 turbulence parameterization. The model simulations demonstrate the importance of the contrasting physical oceanographic characteristics of these two basins on affecting their yearly planktonic structures. The annual primary production in the Rhodes basin is estimated as similar to 97 g C m(2) yr(-1) which is comparable with the northwestern Mediterranean. The western Ionian basin, on the contrary, possesses only 10% of the Rhodes' productivity and therefore represent a most oligotrophic site in the eastern Mediterranean. The Rhodes basin reveals a strong bloom in early spring, typically in March, a weaker bloom in early winter, typically in January, and a subsurface production below the seasonal thermocline during summer. This structure is slightly modified in the western Ionian basin, and the early winter and early spring blooms are merged to cover the entire winter. These results are supported favorably by the available observations both in their magnitudes and timing. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.