The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) provides global monthly measurements of both oceanic phytoplankton chlorophyll biomass and light harvesting by land plants. These measurements allowed the comparison of simultaneous ocean and land net primary production (NPP) responses to a major El Niño to La Niña transition. Between September 1997 and August 2000, biospheric NPP varied by 6 petagrams of carbon per year (from 111 to 117 petagrams of carbon per year). Increases in ocean NPP were pronounced in tropical regions where El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) impacts on upwelling and nutrient availability were greatest. Globally, land NPP did not exhibit a clear ENSO response, although regional changes were substantial.