The distribution of radiolarian assemblages identified by Q-mode factor analysis of radiolarian microfossils in surface sediments from low latitudes in the Pacific Ocean reflects their associations with surface water masses. Downcore fluctuations of these radiolarian assemblages at two sites, RC10-65 and V19–29, indicate changes in circulation in the eastern equatorial Pacific during the past 500,000 yr. Surface-water radiolarian assemblages characteristic of zonal flow have dominated siliceous sedimentation in the eastern equatorial Pacific, except during times of intense upwelling which can occur along the coast of Peru and in the Equatorial Undercurrent. Fluctuations in the importance of this upwelling have not been consistent with glacial/interglacial changes in ice volume throughout the late Quaternary. Intensification of upwelling in the equatorial divergence, however, has consistently coincided with increases in ice volume in the past 500,000 yr. The times at which changes in the nature of the relationship between upwelling and ice volume occur (approximately 240,000 and 380,000 yr B.P.) roughly coincide with times of observed changes in other proxy indicators of oceanographic conditions in the Pacific and Indian oceans.