Research on "microbial loop" organisms, heterotrophic bacteria and phagotrophic protists, has been stimulated in large measure by Pomeroy's seminal paper published in BioScience in 1974. We now know that a significant fate of bacterioplankton production is grazing by 20-µm ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates in the microzooplankton. Protists can grow as fast as, or faster than their phytoplankton prey. Phototrophic cells grazed by protists range from bacterial-sized prochlorophytes to large diatom chains (which are preyed upon by extracellularly-feeding dinoflagellates). Recent estimates of microzooplankton herbivory in various parts of the sea suggest that protists routinely consume from 25 to 100% of daily phytoplankton production, even in diatom-dominated upwelling blooms. Phagotrophic protists should be viewed as a dominant biotic control of both bacteria and of phytoplankton in the sea.