A late Pliocene high-resolution pollen record from the southeast Atlantic (Ocean Drilling Program Site 1082) registers vegetation development in southwest Africa. The marine record is continuous, ranges from 3.5 to 1.7 Ma, and has a millennial resolution between 2.9 and 1.9 Ma. Changes in climate and vegetation correspond to the Matuyama diatom maximum of the Namibian upwelling system and seem to be highly susceptible to latitudinal shifts in the Polar Front Zone of the Southern Ocean. A northward advance of the polar fronts is connected with an increase in winter rainfall in southwest Africa. Rapid desiccation in Namibia at 2.2 Ma is associated with increasing upwelling and decreasing sea- surface temperatures along the coast.