A fine-scale seismic stratigraphic model has been developed for the Palaeogene of the southern North Sea on the basis of interpretation of a dense high-resolution reflection seismic grid, covering the Belgian sector of the continental shelf and the adjacent parts of the Dutch, French and UK sectors. Classical seismic stratigraphic criteria have allowed up to 13 major units to be defined; the geometry and seismic facies characteristics of each have been analysed in detail. The seismic stratigraphy has been compared with the results of four offshore boreholes. ‘Events and trends’ identified on seismic sections and in outcrops in northern Belgium have been correlated, and offshore seismic facies have been tentatively matched with onshore lithofacies. The geological history of the study area is discussed in terms of eustatic sea level changes and regional tectonic events, and the main characteristics of the offshore Palaeogene deposits are evaluated in a sequence stratigraphic context.