Biological processes in the oceans play a crucial role in regulating the fluxes of many important elements such as carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, phosphorus, and silicon. As we come to the end of the 20th century, oceanographers have increasingly focussed on how these elements are cycled within the ocean, the interdependencies of these cycles, and the effect of the cycle on the composition of the earth's atmosphere and climate. Many techniques and tools have been developed or adapted over the past decade to help in this effort. These include satellite sensors of upper ocean phytoplankton distributions, flow cytometry, molecular biological probes, sophisticated moored and shipboard instrumentation, and vastly increased numerical modeling capabilities. This volume is the result of the 37th Brookhaven Symposium in Biology, in which a wide spectrum of oceanographers, chemists, biologists, and modelers discussed the progress in understanding the role of primary producers in biogeochemical cycles. The symposium is dedicated to Dr. Richard W. Eppley, an intellectual giant in biological oceanography, who inspired a generation of scientists to delve into problems of understanding biogeochemical cycles in the sea. We gratefully acknowledge support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Special thanks to Claire Lamberti for her help in producing this volume.