The diachronous temporal and spatial distribution of the Hirnantia brachiopod fauna and the complicated pattern of terminal Ordovician events are documented through biostratigraphical analysis of the Ordovician-Silurian boundary strata in S China, Sibumasu, Xizang and elsewhere. The duration of these events (longer than the half Myr derived from isotopic excursions) indicates that they were not abrupt and instantaneous. The presence of some core taxa of the Hirnantia fauna in the upper P. pacificus Biozone (known from their earliest occurrence in China) signals the start of increased water ventilation due to the invasion of cool water across the Yangtze Basin. Low- and higher-diversity Hirnantia faunas related to onshore, shallow-water and to offshore, deeper-water environments, respectively, developed first in the basal and upper N. extraordinarius-N. ojsuensis Biozone. Disappearance of most of the fauna in the early N. persculptus Biozone suggests that the glacial maximum started to decline. The presence of the Hirnantia fauna in the upper N. persculptus to the lower P. acuminatus biozones indicates the continuation of cool water environments in some places. The diachronous disappearance of deteriorating environments (earlier in later Hirnantian and finally in the early Rhuddanian) is associated with geographical heterogeneity. Occurrences of atrypids, pentamerids and spiriferids along with key elements of the Hirnantia fauna in N Guizhou provide a link between the Late Ordovician radiation and Early Silurian recovery of these major brachiopod groups.