Between 8 May and 3 June 1987 horizontal distribution of Owenia fusiformis larvae (Annelida: Polychaeta) was studied in the eastern part of the Bay of Seine on two spatial scales to determine the role of larval dispersal by hydrodynamic factors on the population dynamics of a benthopelagic species. Larval dispersal occurred in two main directions, north-west and north-east, according to the residual tidal circulation. There was a substantial transport of larvae to a distance of 30–40 NM (48–65 km) from their emission point, resulting in a sizeable loss of larvae to the adult population. However, their densities were low in comparison with those observed in the eastern part of the bay, near the adult population. Larval densities remained highest near the adult population, principally under the influence of tidal processes. In contrast, there was a significant wind-induced larval movement at a time scale of a few days. The action of wind at a time scale of one month, the duration of larval life, appeared to be insignificant for dispersal in 1987 because of the frequent changes in wind direction. Climatological data collected between 1951 and 1980 showed that the wind effect observed in 1987 is probably typical of most years. The horizontal transport of Owenia fusiformis larvae, combined with the ontogenic vertical migration observed previously, causes a retention of these larvae in the eastern part of the Bay of Seine; this favours recruitment and may be one of the factors explaining the temporal stability of the adult population.