ABSTRACT: Red tides of Heterocapsa circularisquama have led to serious damage of bivalve aquacultures in western coastal areas of Japan. To understand the whole picture regarding the ecology of this species, it is essential to clarify its overwintering mechanisms. In this study, the population dynamics of H. circularisquama were investigated from February 2004 to November 2005, and overwintering cells were identified for the first time in water columns of Uranouchi Inlet, Kochi Prefecture, Japan. Heterocapsa circularisquama cells were detected by the indirect fluorescent antibody technique using monoclonal antibodies that specifically recognize and react to this species. Vegetative cells were almost always detected from the first observation in February 2004 to November 2005 with temperatures of 10.5–30.6°C. During the period from winter to spring, this species survived in areas with a temperature higher than 10°C. The overwintering cells of H. circularisquama were isolated in March 2004, and identification was made via observation of the morphology and body scales of the cultured cells. These overwintering cells were identified as H. circularisquama and reacted to the monoclonal antibody. These results indicate that H. circularisquama can overwinter and survive throughout the year in a vegetative cell state in Uranouchi Inlet.