Despite its global impact on ecosystems, the Triassic/Jurassic boundary event had only a modest effect on the carbonate depositional systems of the Southern Alps, whereas a fundamental reorganization of the same palaeogeographic area took place during the Sinemurian Age. This paper investigates whether or not the well-documented demise of Sinemurian carbonate platforms in the Tethyan region was a response to a global event by examination of carbon-isotope anomalies in successions of different facies that record this interval of time. A chemostratigraphic transect from Lake Garda up to the eastern Italian border is illustrated by four stratigraphic sections; high-resolution (20 cm over key intervals) chemostratigraphic sampling allowed detection of a major negative δ13C anomaly of ~ 1.5‰, preceded by a positive excursion, both in shallow- and deep-water successions, over the stratigraphical range of the ammonite genus Arnioceras. A comparison with sections from the UK suggests that the positive excursion belongs to the turneri Zone and the succeeding negative excursion falls within the obtusum Zone. In the deep-water Belluno Basin, the negative anomaly occurs in a biogenic chert-rich unit recording the onset of mesotrophic conditions in the basin. In the platform-carbonate successions, this major negative carbon-isotope excursion is developed within a calcarenitic unit corresponding to the lowest occurrence of the foraminifer Paleomayncina termieri. This evidence for deepening and transgression across the carbonate platform suggests pre-conditioning for drowning. Hence, rather than tectonic subsidence alone, environmental factors may have aided the demise of Tethyan carbonate platforms during the Early Jurassic Sinemurian Age.