The morphology and distribution of the diatoms Chaetoceros tetrastichon and Ch. dadayi as epiphytes on the loricae of the tintinnids Eutintinnus apertus and E. pinguis investigated in the open waters of the PaciWc Ocean. The Eutintinnus–Chaetoceros consortia was encountered in 38 of the 52 sampling stations from 34°N to 33°S, and together were among represented the most wide-spread species. The abundance was low with a maximum of 32 consortia l¡1 and E. apertus was often the most abundant species of the genus. The free-living Eutintinnus congeneric species showed a wider vertical distribution, whereas E. apertus–Chaetoceros tended to be near the surface. The success of E. apertus in consortium with Chaetoceros may be due to increase of the clearance rate and/or the lower susceptibility to predation. Chaetoceros modiWes its morphology to adapt the epiphytic life, especially Ch. dadayi. The shorter curved setae may facilitate the transfer to the lorica of the daughter tintinnid after the cell division. The free-living Ch. tetrastichon and Ch. dadayi are very rare and Chaetoceros remained attached to empty loricae or encysted tintinnid cells. This suggests that the Eutintinnus–Chaetoceros consortium is obligate for the success of the diatom and renders the tintinnid more competitive versus congeneric species.