Phytoplankton periodicity has been fairly regular during the years 1979 to 1982 in Lake Constance. Algal mass growth starts with the vernal onset of stratification; Cryptophyceae and small centric diatoms are the dominant algae of the spring bloom. In June grazing by zooplankton leads to a lsquoclear-water phasersquo dominated by Cryptophyceae. Algal summer growth starts under nutrient-saturated conditions with a dominance of Cryptomonas spp. and Pandorina morum. Depletion of soluble reactive phosphorus is followed by a dominance of pennate and filamentous centric diatoms, which are replaced by Ceratium hirundinella when dissolved silicate becomes depleted. Under calm conditions there is a diverse late-summer plankton dominated by Cyanophyceae and Dinobryon spp.; more turbulent conditions and silicon resupply enable a second summer diatom growth phase in August. The autumnal development leads from a Mougeotia — desmid assemblage to a diatom plankton in late autumn and winter. Inter-lake comparison of algal seasonality includes in ascending order of P-richness Königsee, Attersee, Walensee, Lake Lucerne, Lago Maggiore, Ammersee, Lake Zürich, Lake Geneva, Lake Constance. The oligotrophic lakes have one or two annual maxima of biomass; after the vernal maximum there is a slowly developing summer depression and sometimes a second maximum in autumn. The more eutrophic lakes have an additional maximum in summer. The number of floristically determined successional stages increases with increasing eutrophy, from three in Königsee and Attersee to eight in Lake Geneva and Lake Constance.