||Changes in physico-chemical conditions, phytoplankton biomass, biochemical composition and primary productivity were investigated during autumnal sea-ice formation in the southeastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica. During sea-ice growth, brine salinities gradually increased with decreasing temperature. Nutrient concentrations in the brine of sea ice older than 2 weeks were lower than calculated from initial surface seawater values. The concomittant accumulation of phytoplankton biomass could not be explained solely by physical enrichment. We suggest that several microalgal species retained the capacity to assimilate nutrients and continued to grow in newly formed sea ice. However, nutrient depletions were moderate, and biochemical analyses did not indicate nutrient stress of algal metabolism. Relative abundance of smaller diatom species increased during ice growth, suggesting that pore space available for colonization in conjunction with physiological acclimation capacity were major factors determining successional patterns in recently formed sea ice. Even though ice algal assemblages apparently sustained the capacity to acclimate to reduced irradiances brought about by ice growth and increasing snow cover, maximum primary production was considerably lower than values usually reported from spring and summer ice communities. Therefore, autumnal primary production in newly formed sea ice may not add greatly to total annual production, but may provide an important food source for ice-associated grazers during the winter period, when phytoplankton biomass in the water column is extremely low.