A significant variation in physicochemical properties of the Kalpakkam coastal waters, eastern part of India, was observed during the event of southwest to northeast monsoon transition. Increase in nitrate, total nitrogen, and silicate concentrations were noticed during post-transition period. Ammonia concentration was at peak during transition period as compared to pre- and post-transition periods. Hypo-saline condition (~23 psu) was observed during post-transition as the surface water salinity decreased by ~10 psu from the pre-transitional values. Turbidity, suspended particulate matter, phosphate and total phosphorous values decreased marginally, coinciding with northward to southward current reversal. A drastic decrease (eightfold) in chlorophyll-a concentration was observed in the coastal water during post-transition period. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.