The relative compositions of bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus of seston were studied during the course of inundation in a floodplain lake of central Changjiang (China). Peaks in bacterial biomass developed shortly after flooding, coinciding with the initial leaching of organic nutrients from vegetation submerged under floodwater, and again at high water, shortly before the climax of phytoplankton biomass. Rods predominated the bacterial carbon biomass. Phytoplankton developed a postflood bloom at initial falling, corresponding to the drainage of the lake water into the river. While minimal biomass occurred during the advent of flooding, most likely due to disturbance and dilution. Algal biomass was usually dominated by Chlorophyta. Highest biomass of zooplankton was recorded at the end of the flooding in connection with the decline in turbidity, and once again at early drainage, closely associated with high phytoplankton biomass. Copepods (mainly nauplii) always constituted the majority of zooplankton carbon biomass. Peaks in detrital carbon concentrations were recorded at rising and falling water phases, corresponding respectively to the riverine discharge and decomposition of macrophyte mats. At rising water phase, CPOC was abundant. While during other water phases, this predominance was shifted to FPOC alone. Taken together, average contribution of bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus to total seston carbon was 3.29, 21.21, 6.83 and 68.67 %, respectively.