Bradoriids are small bivalved arthropods that had global distribution for about 20 million years beginning at Cambrian Epoch 2 (c. 521 Ma). The majority of bradoriids are considered to be benthic, favouring oxygenated waters, as suggested by their anatomy, lithofacies distribution, faunal associates and provinciality. Most bradoriids were extinct by the end of the Drumian Age (middle of Cambrian Epoch 3). The post-Drumian is characterized by widespread dysoxic shelf lithofacies in southern Britain and Scandinavia and by the abundance of phosphatocopid arthropods. This interval is also associated with two bradoriid species with wide intercontinental distribution: Anabarochilina primordialis, which had a geographical range from the palaeo-tropics to high southern palaeo-latitude, and Anabarochilina australis, which extended through the palaeo-tropics from Laurentia to Gondwana. The wide environmental and geographical range of these species, coupled with a carapace anatomy that suggests an active lifestyle, is used to infer a zooplanktonic lifestyle. A possible driver of this widespread Cambrian bradoriid zooplankton was sea-level rise coupled to the periodic spread of low oxygen conditions onto continental shelves, acting in tandem with anatomical pre-adaptations for swimming. Parallels exist with the myodocope ostracod colonization of the water column during Silurian time, which may also have been influenced by extrinsic environmental controls acting on anatomical pre-adaptations for swimming. Similar biological and environmental mechanisms may have facilitated arthropod zooplankton colonizations across Phanerozoic time.