Although N2-fixing cyanobacteria contribute significantly to oceanic sequestration of atmospheric CO2, little is known about how N2 fixation and carbon fixation (primary production) interact in natural populations of marine cyanobacteria. In a developing cyanobacterial bloom in the Baltic Sea, rates of N2 fixation (acetylene reduction) showed both diurnal and longer-term fluctuations. The latter reflected fluctuations in the nitrogen status of the cyanobacterial population and could be correlated with variations in the ratio of acetylene reduced to 15N2 assimilated. The value of this ratio may provide useful information about the release of newly fixed nitrogen by a cyanobacterial population. However, although the diurnal fluctuations in N2 fixation broadly paralleled diurnal fluctuations in carbon fixation, the longer-term fluctuations in these two processes were out of phase.