Neogene and lower Pleistocene stratigraphy in the southern North Sea has been investigated in four I.G.S. boreholes. The foraminifera of the Red Crag Formation in Borehole 81/51 are closely similar to upper Pliocene assemblages in Holland. The overlying succession is clearly punctuated by unconformities in seismic profiles, separating four early Pleistocene formations in the boreholes, and indicating intervals of significant stratigraphic hiatus offshore. The Westkapelle Ground and Smith's Knoll formations correlate with Thurnian and Antian Stage deposits in East Anglia. Pollen spectra in the Winterton Shoal and Yarmouth Roads formations are similar to Baventian and Bramertonian assemblages in Britain. The dinoflagellate cysts and foraminifera indicate that each formation was deposited in a warm temperate neritic environment. The pollen record, containing evidence of fluctuation between boreal and mixed coniferous-deciduous regional forest cover, suggests alternation between cool and warm temperate palaeoclimate.--Modified journal abstract.