The distribution of Mnemiopsis leidyi Agassiz, 1865 in the Black Sea was determined using plankton samples collected above the anoxic zone (maximum depth 200 m) in the summer, winter, and spring from 1991 to 1995. Distribution was patchy. Average biomasses of 15 to 500 g m(-2) were measured, and abundances varied from 10 to 180 ind m(-2). Biomass and abundance peaked in winter, and there was a secondary peak in the summer. The distribution of M. leidyi was correlated with hydrographic features in the Black Sea with higher concentrations in anticyclonic gyres. The centers of the two main cyclonic gyres generally had a low biomass of M. leidyi. From July 1992 to March 1995, the populations were largely offshore. M. leidyi were confined to the upper part of the mixed layer both day and night, Some individuals displayed a negative taxis to daylight and were concentrated below the thermocline at night. Smaller M. leidyi (1.5 to 2 cm) were present in the winter, and individuals reached maximum size in the summer. Although reproduction was continuous throughout the year, there were two distinct peaks: the larger peak in the summer and the smaller peak in the winter. Microscopic analysis of stomach contents showed that copepods and molluscs form their main diet.