An overview is presented of the current state of knowledge on paleo-ecological aspects of calcareous dinoflagellate resting cysts. Apart from literature-based information, a discussion of new results is also provided from Equatorial Atlantic surface plankton samples, surface sediment samples and Late Quaternary sediments from two gravity cores. With the aid of redundancy analysis statistics, variations in the calcareous cyst content of both cores are correlated to variations in total organic carbon (TOC). On a global scale, the calcareous cyst distribution in bottom sediments varies with latitude and inshore-offshore gradients. In the Equatorial Atlantic Ocean, enhanced calcareous cyst production can be observed in regions and time intervals with stratified, oligotrophic conditions in the upper water masses.