Timing and duration of the breeding cycle of the Cape petrel Daption capense were studied during two brooding seasons (1990/1991 and 1991/1992) at Nelson Island. South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. In 1991/1992 the copulatory period extended over 53 days, with median dale and a peak about 28 and 19 days respectively, before the median date of laying. Laying began 85 days after arrival, with mean (= median) date on 2 December (SD = 2.5 days). The distributions of laying, hatching and fledging dates showed it similar degree of synchrony and did not differ between years. Incubation and chick period were equally long (46 days), the former being less variable (coefficient of variation 2.8% and 4.6%, respectively). Mean completed nesting cycle (92 days) was about 2 days shorter at Nelson Island than elsewhere and tended to shorten as the breeding season progressed. Its mean length represented 86% of the whole nesting period (107 days), which in turn represented 56% of the period of continuous colony attendance. Timing and duration of nesting stages did not differ between colonies or sets of nests subjected to various levels of disturbance.