It has recently been argued that the dominant forms of reduced oceanic nitrogen and carbon may be overlooked by traditional techniques used to measure dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON). Suzuki el al. (1985) and Sugimura and Suzuki (1988) have reported that concentrations of DOC and DON in the ocean are 2 to 5 times those measured with previous techniques. Williams and Druffel (1988) have discussed the measurement issues and their implications for the nature of dissolved organic carbon in the sea. In this article, some of the implications of the new DOC and DON values for oceanic biology and chemistry are examined.