Community structure and vertical distribution of oncaeid copepods were investigated at an offshore site in Tosa Bay, southern Japan. Samples were collected with a 0.063 mm closing type net from eight discrete layers between the surface and 500 m depth in August and November 2005. A total of 45 species and three form variants belonging to the genera Triconia, Oncaea, Spinoncaea, Conaea and Epicalymma were identified. The greatest number of species was consistently found in the lower epipelagic zone, at 50–100 m. The vertical distribution patterns of oncaeid copepods were similar between August and November, with the highest abundances in the upper epipelagic zone above the thermocline. The oncaeid maxima corresponded with the depth where appendicularians occurred in high numbers. Dominant species in the water column (0–500 m) were O. venusta small form, O. media, O. scottodicarloi, O. waldemari, O. zernovi, O. tregoubovi, S. ivlevi, S. tenuis and T. conifera. The vertical succession of species composition was almost the same between August and November, although several species showed a downward shift of their depth-range to some extent in November. The oncaeid copepod community could be differentiated into three distinct groups according to the depth layers, each corresponding to different hydrographic conditions in the water column.