Temporal and spatial variability of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and ocean colour in the Japan/East Sea (JES) are examined during winter and spring using satellite data from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Sea-viewing Wide Field of view Sensor (SeaWiFS). The timing of the spring phytoplankton bloom and the locations of the chlorophyll fronts are related to changes in the thermal fields and the locations of the temperature fronts. Daily images of SST and chlorophyll concentration show both differences and similarities of bio-optical and thermal front location, depending on region and season. Four sub-regions in the JES were defined and SST and chlorophyll values were extracted from weekly and monthly composite images to derive summary statistics. SST at the Subpolar Front increased about 7°C over a 1.5-month period from late April to early June in 1999. During this same period, elevated chlorophyll values near the Korean coast and in the southern basin decreased sharply as the phytoplankton bloom that first developed in the southern basin progressed to the front and northward. The SST/chlorophyll relationship is complex and seasonal. Near the Subpolar Front, SST and chlorophyll were positively related in April. In May, highest chlorophyll values corresponded to mixing regimes (such as areas of convergence and divergence at the edges of meanders) and, by June, SST and chlorophyll near the front were inversely related.