Patterns of breeding frequency of White-headed Pterodroma lessoni, Great-winged Pterodroma macroptera, White-chinned Procellaria aequinoctialis and Grey Petrels Proceharia cinerea have been studied at Kerguelen and Crozet Islands. The White-headed Petrel (summer breeder) followed an essentially biennial cycle with only 13% of successful individuals breeding again the next year. On the other hand, the Great-winged Petrel (winter breeder) was mainly an annual breeder with 78% of successful birds breeding again the next year. Both White-chinned (summer breeder) and Grey Petrels (winter breeder) showed a higher breeding frequency than Pterodroma species, with 91% and 93%, respectively, of successful birds returning to breed the following season. These contrasting patterns may be related to the timing of energetic constraints encountered during the interbreeding period, principally the moult and the restoration of breeding condition. It is suggested that these post-breeding constraints are more marked in winter and in oceanic waters, leading to breeding frequencies being lower than in summer and in neritic waters. The intermediate patterns of breeding frequency found in the Great-winged Petrel (mainly annual) and the White-headed Petrel (mainly biennial) show that among Procellariiformes there is a continuum between annual and strictly biennial species.