Résumé : Short- and long-term time course studies of radiocarbon accumulation in the intracellular end-products of photosynthesis (proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, small metabolites) and extracellular monomers and polymers were conducted at natural light intensity during a 24-h period in Belgian coastal waters dominated by large diatoms species in September, 1983. It is shown that carbon losses observed during the long-term incubation are due to the catabolism of reserve products (polysaccharides and lipids), which occurs both during the light and dark periods and provides carbon and energy for pursuing protein synthesis during the dark. Catabolism rates, as calculated by means of a simple mathematical model, indicate reduced rates of lipid catabolism (1-2% h-1, respectively for the light and dark periods), although polysaccharide catabolism proceeds at much higher rates, namely 20% h-1 during the light and 8% h-1 during the dark period. Assuming that protein synthesis proceeds at a constant rate during the 24-h period and that β 1-3 glucan constitutes the main storage product of this diatom population, it is shown that at least 65% of the gross primary production is catabolized by the cells. From this, only 16% are mobilized for dark protein synthesis. The remaining is respired, especially during the light period.