Increasing human activity has raised concerns about the impact of deposition of anthropogenic combustion aerosols (i.e., black carbon; BC) on marine processes. The sea surface microlayer (SML) is a key gate for the introduction of atmospheric BC into the ocean; however, relatively little is known of the effects of BC on bacteria-virus interactions, which can strongly influence microbially mediated processes. To study the impact of BC on bacteria-virus interactions, field investigations involving collection from the SML and underlying water were carried out in Halong Bay (Vietnam). Most inorganic nutrient concentrations, as well as dissolved organic carbon, were modestly but significantly higher (p = 0.02-0.05) in the SML than in underlying water. The concentrations of particulate organic carbon (though not chlorophyll a) and of total particulate carbon, which was composed largely of particulate BC (mean = 1.7 +/- 6.4 mmol L-1), were highly enriched in the SML, and showed high variability among stations. On average, microbial abundances (both bacteria and viruses) and bacterial production were 2- and 5fold higher, respectively, in the SML than in underlying water. Significantly lower bacterial production (p < 0.01) was observed in the particulate fraction (> 3 mu m) compared to the bulk sample, but our data overall suggest that bacterial production in the SML was stimulated by particulate BC. Higher bacterial production in the SML than in underlying water supported high viral lytic infection rates (from 5.3 to 30.1%) which predominated over percent lysogeny (from undetected to 1.4%). The sorption of dissolved organic carbon by black carbon, accompanied by the high lytic infection rate in the black carbon-enriched SML, may modify microbially mediated processes and shift the net ecosystem metabolism (ratio of production and respiration) to net heterotrophy and CO2 production in this critical layer between ocean and atmosphere.