A plankton survey investigated spatial and temporal distributions of larval sea lice in a sea loch on the north-west coast of Scotland. Plankton tows were collected approximately weekly at two depths (0 and 5 m) at five sample stations over a 2-year period. The survey began in March 2002 when Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., farms in the study area stocked with fish and finished in March 2004, after farms completed harvesting. Over 90% of lice recovered were Lepeophtheirus salmonis (Krøyer); therefore, the results of this paper refer largely to that species. The data were analysed using generalized additive models with explanatory variables for time, depth and station. Greatest densities of nauplii were recovered at stations adjacent to farms indicating that the local salmon farms were a likely source of larvae at times during the production cycle. There were significant temporal trends in larval densities and the stocking and harvesting of farms can possibly account for these increases and decreases, particularly at the start and at the end of the production cycle. The distribution of copepodids was more widespread than that of nauplii, indicating that the larvae can be transported several kilometres from the point of release.