The abundance of planktonic specimens in foraminiferal assemblages was determined in numerous bottom samples from inner neritic to deep oceanic depths along the Atlantic margin of the northeastern United States. The results augment previous studies in other areas that have shown a general increase in percentage of planktonic specimens in total foraminiferal bottom assemblages as water depth increases. The patterns found in this area of complex shelf bathymetry and hydrography illustrate the influence on the planktonic-benthonic percentages of water depth, distance from shore, different water mass properties and downslope movement of tests in high energy areas. The patterns found in the 661 samples from the Atlantic margin were compared with results from 795 stations in the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean and Red Sea. The relative abundance of planktonic specimens and water depth correlates positively in all open oceanic areas even though taxonomic composition and diversity of the faunas from different areas is variable. The variation of planktonic percentages in bottom samples within most depth intervals is large so that a precise depth determination cannot be made for any given value. However, an approximate upper depth limit for given percentages can be estimated for open ocean environments. A decrease in planktonic percentages is seen in the lower salinity and higher turbidity coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine. Planktonic percentages intermediate between the lower values in the less saline coastal waters and the higher values in the normal open oceanic conditions occur in the transitional area between the Gulf of Maine and the open marine Atlantic Ocean to the east. Similarly lowered values in another area of restricted oceanic circulation occur in the high salinity, clear, but nutrient-poor waters of the Gulf of Aqaba off the Red Sea. A comparison of the similarity of modern planktonic percentage values to those found in earlier Tertiary assemblages was made to confirm the usefulness of this measure in the fossil record. In some stratigraphic sections in upper Paleocene and lower Eocene strata of the eastern Gulf Coastal Plain, water depths inferred from trends and values of planktonic percentages consistently match paleobathymetry constructed from physical stratigraphic characteristics and paleogeographic relationships. ?? 1989.