In 2003, the Georges Bank stock of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) experienced the largest recruitment event recorded during its assessed history. Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain recruitment variability in this much-scrutinized stock, including variability in the retention of eggs and larvae on Georges Bank, the timing of haddock spawning, and variability in the spring bloom, which influences larval growth and survival. Although these processes may contribute to the formation of successful year classes, none of the factors associated with these previous hypotheses provides an adequate explanation of the 2003 recruitment event. We analyzed data on the dynamics of the fall phytoplankton bloom the year prior to spawning and show it to be highly correlated with subsequent recruitment. We suggest that the fall bloom affects recruitment through enhanced condition of adults and by increasing the quantity and quality of their reproductive output, which in turn leads to a higher probability of survival of their offspring. Although synoptic data on the fall bloom are limited and our analyses are correlative, our purpose is to stimulate a rigorous test of this promising parental condition hypothesis.