Nitrogen fixation, nitrate assimilation and primary production ((13)C/(15)N method) were investigated during one year and half in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Nitrogen fixation was detectable all over the year with rates ranged from 2 to 17 nmol N l(-1) d(-1)(d). Highest values being obtained during spring associated with the phytoplankton bloom. High rates (4-8 nmol N l(-1) d(-1)(d)) were also measured during summer, when primary productivity was very low. Then, diazotrophy process supplies significant new nitrogen during summer oligotrophic periods. This new nitrogen input can balance the annual nitrogen biogeochemical budget in the Mediterranean Sea and should explain the high nitrate/phosphate ratio observed in deep waters.