Total biomass and biomass of large taxonomic groups (polychaetes, molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms) and species diversity of the macrofauna were determined for almost 200 North Sea stations sampled synoptically by seven vessels during Spring 1986 and for 120 additional stations sampled in earlier years by the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen. There exists a clear and significant decreasing trend in biomass with latitude, both in total biomass and for the different taxonomic groups. Apart from latitude, sediment composition and chlorophyll a content of the sediment also infuence total biomass and biomass of most groups significantly. Biomass increases consistently in finer sediments and sediments with a higher chlorophyll a content. The same trends are found for the results within laboratories. Some interaction exists, indicating weak laboratory and zonal effects. Diversity, as measured by Hill's diversity index N1 = (exp H') shows a clear and significant trend with latitude. Towards the north of the North Sea diversity increases considerably. The trend is also found for laboratories separately and is everywhere equally strong. Also longitude and depth show an effect on diversity. Sediment variables have no clear influence on diversity. Other diversity measures show the same trend but are more variable than N1. Total density tends to increase towards the north, but sediment related variables have a larger influence. Mean individual weight becomes considerably smaller towards the northern part ofthe North Sea.