Competition between corals and macroalgae is often assumed to occur on reefs, especially those that have undergone shifts from coral to algal dominance; however, data examining these competitive interactions, especially during the early life-history stages of corals, are scarce. We conducted a series of field and outdoor seawater-table experiments to test the hypothesis that allelopathy (chemical inhibition) mediates interactions between 2 common brown macroalgae, Dictyota pulchella and D. pinnatifida, and the coral Porites astreoides at different life-history stages of the coral. D. pinnatifida significantly reduced larval survival and larval recruitment. The extracts of both D. pinnatifida and D. pulchella significantly reduced larval survival, and the extract of D. pulchella also negatively influenced larval recruitment. There was no measurable effect of the crude extracts from Dictyota spp. on the photophysiology of adult corals. Our results provide evidence that these Dictyota species chemically compete with P. astreoides by negatively affecting larval settlement and recruitment as well as the survival of larvae and new recruits. Macroalgae may perpetuate their dominance on degraded reefs by chemically inhibiting the process of coral recruitment.