Exposed sandy beaches are widespread coastal habitats with temporal and spatial variability. O Rostro beach (Galicia, north-west Spain) was the most severely affected beach in the ‘Prestige’ oil spill (November 2002). Monitoring sampling was conducted to study macroinfaunal composition and structure after the oil spill episode. The purpose of this survey was to characterize macroinfaunal variations on the beach over a yearly scale (2003–2007) and determine the recovery period. These data are compared with the only available data collected before the spill (1995). Two zones where identified with different recovery trends: (1) supralittoral, occupied either by talitrid amphipods, oniscoidean isopods and insects; and (2) intertidal, where marine crustaceans prevailed. Beach morphodynamics partially buried the oil, which gradually reappeared and was dragged to the coast. Negative ecological effects were observed in the short term (six months after the 2002 spill) but macroinfauna apparently recovered in the following years (2004–2007), showing that macroinfaunal assemblages of this beach are resilient enough to recover after severe stress.