Eleven years of satellite data on surface chlorophyll-a, wind, and altimetry were used to analyze the spatial and temporal variability of the phytoplankton biomass in the Peru-Chile Current System (PCCS; 10-40°S) and to examine the main mechanisms determining this variability. Multitaper Method-Singular Value Decomposition was used to identify statistically significant timescales of variability and to reconstruct their associated spatial patterns. The results indicate that wind stress and Rossby wave propagation govern the annual chlorophyll-a signal in the coastal (<200. km offshore) and transition (up to 80°W) zones. Eddy kinetic energy, which is associated with mesoscale activity, amplifies the annual chlorophyll signal off Peru (10-18°S) and central-southern Chile (30-40°S). In the adjacent oceanic zone (80-90°W), the wind stress curl controls the seasonal increase of chlorophyll-a in austral spring. The interannual chlorophyll-variability is closely associated with El Niño perturbations, which are transmitted from the coast towards the oceanic region via Rossby waves and mesoscale eddies. El Niño signals are observed first off south-central Chile and later off Peru, possibly linked to atmospheric teleconnection with the equatorial region. The ecological implications of regional chlorophyll-a variability are discussed.