A paleoecological analysis of the fossil record before and after the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary indicates that the widespread extinctions and biological stresses around the boundary are best explained in terms of a sudden, significant, but short temperature rise. L. Alvarez and co-authors, having found an enrichment in iridium at the same boundary, postulated that it was associated with the impact of an extraterrestrial body. If this body struck the ocean, the water injected into the atmosphere may have led to a transient increase in the global surface temperature. This temperature pulse may have been primarily responsible for the effects observed in the biosphere. The pattern of extinction of higher plant species suggests that splash down occurred in the northern Pacific-Bering Sea area. ?? 1981.