Abstract The present day, interglacial, surface sediment distribution in the Fram Strait is mainly controlled by two factors: biological productivity, which is closely related to sea ice conditions and surface water oceanography, and near-bottom transport processes. The effect of near-bottom transport is reflected in the pattern of sediment grain sizes and in the distribution of terrestrial organic matter, as indicated by high C/N-ratios and light δ 13C org-values. The distribution of organic carbon, biogenic opal and the kaolinite/illite ratio in the Fram Strait surface sediments depends on biological productivity in the surface waters and shows a strong relationship to sea ice coverage. Carbonate contents decrease northward, reflecting the decreasing influence of Atlantic waters to the north. This characterization of the present day setting in the Fram Strait can be helpful in identifying and interpreting older interglacial sediments. The close relationship of organic carbon and biogenic opal contents and of the kaolinite/illite ratio to sea ice coverage indicates that these parameters might be useful for reconstructing paleo-ice extents.