The Niveau Breistroffer black shale succession in the Vocontian Basin (SE France) is the regional equivalent of the widely distributed Late Albian Oceanic Anoxic Event 1d. The studied black shale-rich interval at the Col de Palluel section is 6.28 m thick and comprises four black shale units with up to 2.5 wt% total organic carbon (TOC) intercalated with marlstones. Calcareous nannofossil, palynomorph, planktic Foraminifera and stable isotopic data from the Niveau Breistroffer succession suggest that short-term climate changes influenced its deposition, with relatively warm and humid climate during black shale formation in comparison with relatively cool and dry climatic conditions during marlstone deposition. An increase in the terrigenous/marine ratio of palynomorphs indicates enhanced humidity and higher runoff during black shale formation. A nutrient index based on calcareous nannofossils and the abundance pattern of small (63–125 μm) hedbergellid Foraminifera show short-term changes in the productivity of the surface water. Surface-water productivity was reduced during black shale formation and increased during marlstone deposition. A calcareous nannofossil temperature index and bulk-rock oxygen isotope data indicate relative temperature changes, with warmer surface waters for black shale samples. At these times, warm–humid climate and reduced surface-water productivity were accompanied by greater abundances of ‘subsurface’-dwelling calcareous nannofossils (nannoconids) and planktic Foraminifera (rotaliporids). These taxa presumably indicate more stratified surface-water conditions. We suggest that the formation of the Niveau Breistroffer black shales occurred during orbitally induced increase in monsoonal activity that led to increasing humidity during periods of black shale formation. This, in turn, caused a decrease in low-latitude deep-water formation and probably an increase in surface-water stratification. The combination of these two mechanisms caused depleted O2 concentrations in the bottom water that increased the preservation potential of organic matter.