Ship-based surveys of seabirds were carried out off southwestern Greenland in the autumn of 1988 and winter of 1989. The results provide the first quantitative information on seabird distribution and numbers for single seasons and estimates for one particular area in winter. Some oceanographic habitat characteristics important for seabird distribution are described. In winter, high numbers of king eiders Somaleriaspectabilis, Brünnich's guillemots Urialomvia, glaucous gulls Larushyperboreus, Iceland gulls Larusglaucoides, great black-backed gulls Larusmarinus and black guillemots Cepphusgrylle were found in offshore habitats with heavy ice cover. An estimated 280,000 king eiders, 170,000 Brünnich's guillemots, 2,500 glaucous gulls, 7,000 Iceland gulls, 9,500 great black-backed gulls and 25,000 black guillemots were found in winter in an area west of Nuuk.