Distributions of pore water O 2, NO -2, NO -3, NH +4, Si(OH) 4, PO 3-4, Mn 2+, F -, and T.A. were determined at 15 stations in the eastern equatorial Atlantic. While overall profile characteristics are consistent with previous models of organic matter diagenesis, profile shapes suggest that a deep reaction layer, rich in organic C, is also present at many sites. While it is unlikely that the oxidation of organic C in this layer has had a major effect on the ocean C cycle, pore water profile shapes are significantly altered. Despite exposure to seawater SO 2-4 concentrations for > 1000 years, decomposition of the organic matter in the layer appears to be restricted to oxic and suboxic processes. These results suggest major differences in organic carbon decomposition and preservation under oxic/suboxic and anoxic conditions. Present-day benthic fluxes are largest adjacent to the eastern boundary coastal upwelling region and similar in magnitude to values reported for the eastern Pacific. Preliminary estimates suggest that the benthic respiration in the eastern 1/3 of the North Atlantic south of 20°N may alone account for >20% of the total deep North Atlantic respiration. Combining these results with estimates of organic C burial and deep water-column decomposition suggests that this region is a major location of organic C input into the deep sea.