Production of domoic acid (DA), a neurotoxin, by the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia multiseries (previously Nitzschia pungens f. multiseries) Hasle and its cellular chemical composition were studied in phosphate-limited chemostat continuous cultures and in subsequent batch cultures. Under steady-state chemostat conditions, DA production increased from 0.01 to 0.26 pg DA · cell−1· d−1 as the growth rate decreased. When the nutrient supply was discontinued (to produce a batch culture), DA production was enhanced by a factor of ca. 3. DA production was temporarily suspended upon addition of phosphate to the batch cultures but resumed 1 d later at a higher rate coincident with the decline of phosphate uptake. In both steady-state continuous culture and batch culture, more DA was produced when alkaline phosphatase activity (APA) was high. The association of high DA production with high levels of APA and high cellular N:P ratios strongly suggests that phosphate limitation enhances DA production. Also, DA production was high when other primary metabolism (e.g. uptake of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and silicon, and cell division) was low, but chlorophyll a and adenosine triphosphate were generally high. This suggests that the synthesis of DA requires a substantial amount of biogenic energy.