The Upper Rhine Graben (URG) is part of the European Cenozoic Rift System and a classical hydrocarbon province in SW-Germany. The rift graben development has led to a complex basin fill of terrestrial and marine Cenozoic deposits, providing several HC source and reservoir units. The aim of this study is the multidisciplinary analysis of the palaeoenvironmental conditions and source rock development within the transgressive marine intervals and the palaeothermal history of the study area within the northern URG rift system to improve the understanding of hydrocarbon system development in this rift graben. Palaeoenvironmental conditions are strongly influenced by rift-related tectonic activity. Transgressive marine intervals in times of major subsidence show high terrestrial input from the graben shoulders, leading to mainly terrigenous gas-prone kerogen, while transgressive marine intervals during low tectonic activity are dominated by marine-brackish palaeoenvironments and oil-prone kerogen. This differs clearly from the previously suggested hydrocarbon potential of these intervals. Thermal maturation analysis shows almost vertical maturation trends, which are atypical for burial controlled maturation. It indicates significant secondary thermal overprinting related to long-lasting, very hot hydrothermal fluid systems, concentrated along fault zones. Therefore the development of the depositional setting, kerogen composition, thermal maturation and the hydrocarbon potential is directly linked to the dynamics of the rift system development.