Particulate organic matter (POM), nutrients, chlorophyll-a (CHL) and primary production measurements were performed in the upper layer of three different regions (cyclonic, anticyclonic and frontal+peripherial) of the NE Mediterranean Sea in 1991-1994. Depth profiles of bulk POM exhibited a subsurface maximum, coinciding with the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) established near the base of the euphotic zone of the Rhodes cyclone and its periphery, where the nutricline was situated just below the euphotic zone for most of the year. Moreover, the POM peaks were broader and situated at shallower depths in late winter-early spring as compared to its position in the summer-autumn period. Under prolonged winter conditions, as experienced in March 1992, the characteristic POM feature disappeared in the center of the Rhodes cyclone, where the upper layer,vas entirely occupied by nutrient-rich Levantine deep water. Deep convective processes in the cyclonic gyre led to the formation of vertically uniform POM profiles with low concentrations of particulate organic carbon (POC) (2.1 mu M), nitrogen (0.21 mu M), total particulate phosphorus (PP) (0.02 mu M) and chlorophyll-a (0.5 mu g/L) in the euphotic zone. Though the Levantine deep waters ascended up to the surface layer with the nitrate/phosphate molar ratios (28-29) in March 1992, the N/P molar ratio of bulk POM in the upper layer was low as 10-12, indicating luxury consumption of phosphate during algal production. Depth-integrated primary production in the euphotic zone ranged from 38.5 for oligotrophic autumn to 457 mg C m(-2) day(-1) for moderately mesotrophic cool winter conditions. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All fights reserved.