We investigated dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) quota (pg DMSP cell-1), intracellular DMSP concentration (mM), in vitro and in vivo DMSP-lyase activity (DLA) and dimethylsulphide (DMS) concentration in batch cultures of 10 species of coccolithophore. Species were chosen to span the phylogenetic and size range that exists within the coccolithophores. Our overall objective was to examine if Emiliania huxleyi, considered a 'model' coccolithophore species, is representative in terms of DMSP, DLA and DMS, because other coccolithophores contribute substantially to phytoplankton biomass and carbon fluxes in temperate and tropical waters. DMSP was found in all species, and DMSP quotas correlated significantly with cell volume, reflecting the fundamental physiological role of DMSP as a compatible solute in this group. This DMSP quota-cell volume relationship can be used to calculate the relative contribution of different species to total DMSP. Lowered nutrient availability (batch growth at a 10-fold lower nutrient concentration) did not significantly affect DMSP quota. In contrast to DMSP, DLA and DMS concentration were variable between the subset of species investigated. Coccolithophore DLA is known only in E. huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and we found DLA to be restricted to these closely related species. If DLA is restricted to a subset of coccolithophores, then those species are more likely to emit DMS directly in the sea. Our results indicate that in ecosystems where coccolithophores form stable populations, species other than E. huxleyi can make significant contributions to the particulate DMSP pool and hence to the amount of DMSP potentially available to the microbial loop.