The aim of this study was to explore the variation and regulation of bacterial carbon processing at a coastal oligotrophic site of the Island of Majorca in the Mediterranean Sea. In situ bacterial production (BP), respiration (BR), growth efficiency, and carbon demand in relation to environmental parameters were studied over an annual cycle. In addition, the response of bacterial carbon processing to an experimental resource (phosphate) and temperature manipulations was tested. While concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and phosphorus were fairly stable over the year, BP and BR varied 65-fold and 79-fold, respectively. Addition of phosphate stimulated both BP and BR during most of the year, suggesting that phosphorus limitation keeps a tight rein on bacterial DOC utilization. Both BP and BR responded positively to a 2 degrees C experimental increase, but at higher temperature increases BP and BR leveled off or decreased. In situ BP and BR were positively related to temperature, suggesting that elevated water temperature would yield increased BP and BR. BR responded more strongly to temperature than BP, suggesting that increased temperature may result in a decrease in bacterial growth efficiency.