Lightning activity within 70 tropical cyclones in the South West Indian Ocean is studied using a large data set (2005-2013) provided by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN). The radial and azimuthal distributions of lightning flashes are analyzed in three different regions of the basin: the open ocean, the Mozambique Channel, and the oceanic region up to 400 km off the eastern coast of Madagascar (ECM). Over the open ocean, lightning activity detected by the WWLLN is mainly found in the eyewall and decreases outward, regardless of storm intensity. Lightning activity in the eyewall of tropical cyclones is higher than in the eyewall of tropical storms. The front and the right quadrants (225° to 45°) relative to the storm motion are the regions where lightning flashes are preferentially detected. Near the ECM, lightning density in the eyewall, the inner rainbands, and the outer rainbands is quite similar, presumably owing to the proximity of land. When the system reaches tropical cyclone strength, lightning activity is mainly found in the left and rear quadrants relative to storm motion. In the Mozambique Channel, the radial and azimuthal distributions of lightning flashes are complex due to the geographical configuration of this subdomain. The relationships between lightning activity and intensity change have also been investigated for systems over the open ocean. The proportion of periods with lightning activity is higher during rapid intensity changes of tropical cyclones. During tropical storm stage, lightning activity in the outer rainbands starts increasing 18 h before a rapid intensification period. 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.