The Indian monsoon system, as recorded by ocean-floor biota (benthic foraminifera) at Ocean Drilling Program Site 758 in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, has varied dramatically over the past 5.5 m.y., long after the onset of the monsoons at 10–8 Ma. Benthic foraminifera that thrive with high productivity year-round were common before the formation of Northern Hemisphere continental ice sheets ca. 3.1–2.5 Ma, indicating that the summer (southwest) monsoon had high intensity and long seasonal duration. Ca. 2.8 Ma benthic faunas became dominated by taxa that flourish with a seasonally strongly fluctuating food supply, indicating that the northeast (winter) monsoon, during which primary productivity is relatively low, increased in duration and strength to form a system similar to that of today. The change occurred coeval with the initiation of the Northern Hemisphere glaciation, documenting a close link between the development of the Indian monsoon and Northern Hemisphere glaciation.