We used 16 years of multiplatform-derived biophysical data to reveal the footprint of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) on the phytoplankton biomass of the northwestern Pacific Ocean in terms of chlorophyll a concentration (Chl), and to discern the probable factors causing the observed footprint. There were meridional differences in the response of phytoplankton to changes of environmental conditions associated with deepening of the mixed layer during the positive phase of the PDO. In general, deepening of the mixed layer increased phytoplankton biomass at low latitudes (increase of Chl due to increase of nutrient supply), but lowered phytoplankton at high latitudes (decrease of Chl due to reduction of average irradiance and temperature in the mixed layer). The areas where Chl increased or decreased changed meridionally and seasonally in accord with regulation of nutrient and light/temperature limitation by changes of mixed layer depth. The observed PDO footprint on Chl in the northwestern Pacific is likely superimposed on the high-frequency component of the PDO excited by El Niño/Southern Oscillation interannual variability. On a decadal time scale, however, Chl in the northwestern Pacific were more strongly associated with the recently discovered North Pacific Gyre Oscillation.