Abstract During a 4-week period in late spring 1998 an extensive Prorocentrum minimum (Pavillard) Schiller bloom developed in several tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Experiments were carried out in one of these tributaries using 13C and 15N isotopic techniques to characterize C and N uptake as a function of irradiance during the course of this bloom. Uptake rates of N substrates (NO 3 −, NH 4 +, urea, and an amino acid mixture) and C substrates (bicarbonate and urea) were measured. For each N substrate, short-term uptake rates (0.5 h) were not substantially different over the irradiance range measured, suggesting that N uptake of this dinoflagellate was not strongly light-dependent over this time scale. Dark uptake rates of all N substrates ranged between 35 and 113% of light uptake rates. Over the duration of the P. minimum bloom, however, total ambient N uptake rates increased with increasing natural irradiance. Uptake of bicarbonate showed typical light-dependent photosynthetic characteristics and the measured photosynthetic parameters suggested that at least on the short time scale (0.5 h), P. minimum cells were adapted to high light. Rates of C uptake from the substrate urea were minimal, <1% of total C uptake from photosynthesis, but doubled over the course of the bloom, and like N uptake, were not strongly light-dependent on the short time scale (0.5 h). Significant N dark uptake by P. minimum was likely to have been important by providing N sources over the daily scale to sustain the bloom.