A reconstruction of Milankovitch to millennial-scale variability of sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface productivity in the Pleistocene midlatitude North Atlantic Ocean (marine isotope stage (MIS) 16-9) and its relationship to ice sheet instability was carried out on sediments from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1313. This reconstruction is based on alkenone and n-alkane concentrations, U-37(K)' index, total organic carbon (TOC) and carbonate contents, X-ray diffraction data, magnetic susceptibility, and accumulation rates. Increased input of ice-rafted debris occurred during MIS 16, 12, and 10, characterized by high concentrations of dolomite, quartz, and feldspars and elevated accumulation rates of terrigenous matter. Minimum input values of terrigenous matter, on the other hand, were determined for MIS 13 and 11. Peak values of dolomite, coinciding with quartz, plagioclase, and kalifeldspar peaks and maxima in long-chain n-alkanes indicative for land plants, are interpreted as Heinrich-like events related to sudden instability of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during early and late (deglacial) phases of the glacials. The coincidence of increased TOC values with elevated absolute concentrations of alkenones suggests increased glacial productivity, probably due to a more southern position of the Polar Front. Alkenone-based SST reached absolute maxima of about 19 degrees C during MIS 11.3 and absolute minima of <10 degrees C during MIS 12 and 10. Within MIS 11, prominent cooling events (MIS 11.22 and 11.24) occurred. The absolute SST minima recorded directly before and after the glacial maxima MIS 10.2 and 12.2 are related to Heinrich-like event meltwater pulses, as supported by the coincidence of SST minima and maxima in C-37:4 alkenones and dolomite. These sudden meltwater pulses, especially during terminations IV and V, probably caused a collapse of phytoplankton productivity as indicated by the distinct drop in alkenone concentrations. Ice sheet disintegration and subsequent surges and outbursts of icebergs and meltwater discharge may have been triggered by increased insolation in the northern high latitudes.