In order to quantify the role of coastal upwelling regions as source or sink areas for carbon, the relationships between particulate organic carbon (POC) production, export, remineralization, and accumulation were examined in Monterey Bay from 1989 through 1992. During a normal upwelling year (1989–90), a high positive correlation (r = 0.91) is observed between biweekly primary production and POC export at 450 m. Primary production values range from 500 mgC m−2 d−1 during the winter, to 2600 mgC m−2 d−1 in the spring and summer upwelling months. Corresponding deep-water (450 m) POC fluxes vary from a minimum of 10 mgC m−2 d−1 in December, to 120 mgC m−2 d−1 in May. In contrast, the mid-1991 through 1992 data sets obtained during the '91–92 El Nino period, show a relatively poor correlation (r = 0.23) between productivity and carbon export. Calculated ratios of POC export to POC production (defined as e-ratios) display a trend for the three-year data sets in which the e-ratio values are greatest during periods of low productivity and decrease to minimal values when surface production is high. Upwelling-induced, offshore Ekman transport of organic matter and probable seasonal changes in the planktonic community structure are the mechanisms likely to be responsible for the e-ratio trends. Based on the data sets reported from this work, a simple box model of the annual export and regeneration of particulate organic carbon is presented for the Monterey Bay region. An appreciable advective and/or recycling “loss” from the euphotic zone of 362.8 gC m−2 y−1 is estimated, representing primarily algal material transported offshore and/or recycled within the upper 100 m of the water column. Annual mid-water (≈100– 450 m) and deep-water (>450 m) POC remineralization rates of 71.8 gC m−2 y−1 of 7.2 gC m−2 y−1, respectively, are reported for Monterey Bay. The average POC rain rate to the underlying slope sediments is sufficient to satisfy reported benthic utilization requirements without invoking an additional input source of POC via deep lateral advection and/or the downslope movement of particulate material.