The role of larval advection in determining the complex, large-scale patterns of immigration of penaeid postlarvae in the Gulf of Carpentaria is investigated by modelling the interaction between diurnal vertical migration of larvae with wind-forced and tidal currents. Eight vertical migration schemes are modelled in which both the timing of the migration and the position of the larvae in the water column are varied. These schemes are then coupled with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional models of the currents of the Gulf, to examine horizontal advection of larvae. When the larvae migrate vertically with a diurnal period, their horizontal advection is enhanced. The largest horizontal advection distances occur when the larvae move diurnally from the water column into the bottom boundary layer. Advection distances of up to 165 km are possible during the two to three week planktonic larval period. This distance corresponds to, and may determine, the offshore extent of the adult distribution. The onshore advection pattern of larvae varies in both space and time (on a seasonal scale) and is consistent with the observed spatial and temporal recruitment patterns seen by sampling postlarval immigation into nursery areas. During the period of highest reproductive activity (March) in the southeastern corner of the Gulf, the area of the largest fishery, the advection of larvae is offshore and little recruitment of postlarvae to the nursery grounds is accomplished. Six months later, during the next period of reproductive activity (October), when the number of spawning female shrimp is much lower, the phase of the tidal currents, relative to the day-night cycle, has progressed 180° and the larvae are moved onshore allowing postlarvae access to their estuarine nursery grounds several months prior to the main fishing season (March).