The basinal facies of the Lopingian Zechstein Limestone in SW Poland consists of thin (often less than 1 m thick) limestones and/or dolomites, often containing the Kupferschiefer (few tens of centimetres thick) at their base, and local thick (up to 90 m) reefal carbonates. The δ13C curve of these basal Zechstein deposits strongly suggests that even when the Kupferschiefer is lacking, the thin (condensed) sequences record the entire interval of the Zechstein prior to the onset of evaporite deposition, in contrast to the thick reef sequences which lack the characteristic δ13C curve for the lowermost part of the Zechstein. The calcite samples show considerable ranges of δ18O values. If the maximum δ18O values are considered to be the closest to the pristine original ones and if δ18Owater value = 0 is assumed, then the calculated range of palaeotemperatures for the Kupferschiefer and Zechstein Limestone calcite ranges from 19 to 34 °C. The faunal restriction, common dwarf foraminifers and the predominance of lagenids in the foraminiferal assemblage indicate continual dysaerobic conditions and possibly elevated salinity of seawater during deposition of thin basinal Zechstein Limestone deposits. The mixing of shallow and deeper waters in the stratified Zechstein Basin caused by upwelling could result in prolific carbonate precipitation in reefs located at the slope of the marginal carbonate platform of the Zechstein Limestone and in isolated reefs related to palaeohighs within the basin; however, there is no isotopic record of eventual upwelling. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.