A quantitative study of macrobenthos was carried out on three transects on the shelf and continental slope off Chile (22° to 42°S; from 100 to 2000 m water depth) within and beneath the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). Macrobenthos mean densities ranged from 104 to 13 808 ind m−2, with highest values off Concepción (∼36°S), where highest chloroplastic pigment equivalents were also measured. Polychaetes were the numerically dominant group in all transects and depths, followed by peracarid crustaceans. Species richness and diversity correlated with observed changes in bottom-water oxygen concentrations and sediment-bound pigments. Our results show that the shelf macrobenthic communities were negatively affected by low oxygen. The non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) analysis evidenced depth-related station groups which may be related to the different environments provided by the water masses involved. Indeed, the depth ranges of stations groups with their specific species inventories coincide quite well with the boundaries of the three important water masses in the region, the Equatorial Subsurface Water (∼50 m to ∼400 m depth), the Antarctic Intermediate Water (∼400 to ∼1200 m depth), and the Pacific Deep Water (>1200 m depth).