The results of the long-term investigations of phytoplankton of the whole of Lake Baikal summarizing almost 40 years of systematic observations are given in this paper. These studies draw attention to spatial heterogeneity of planktonic biomass across the basin during the spring maximal bloom. The research of vertical distribution of phytoplankton during different years allows us to specify the role of phytoplankton in the cycle of organic substances and in biological productivity of Lake Baikal. For the first time, Baikal picophytoplankton, peculiarities of its production, seasonal and inter-annual dynamics, biocoenotic interrelations and its role in the ecosystem of Lake Baikal have been described. Changes occurring in Baikal pelagial phytocoenoses during the 1970–1990s in comparison with those of 1950–1960s have been revealed.

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