Based on the quantitative analysis of diatom assemblages preserved in 274 surface sediment samples recovered in the Pacific, Atlantic and western Indian sectors of the Southern Ocean we have defined a new reference database for quantitative estimation of late-middle Pleistocene Antarctic sea ice fields using the transfer function technique. The Detrended Canonical Analysis (DCA) of the diatom data set points to a unimodal distribution of the diatom assemblages. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) indicates that not only winter sea ice (WSI) but also summer sea surface temperature (SSST) represent the most prominent environmental variables that control the spatial species distribution. To test the applicability of transfer functions for sea ice reconstruction in terms of concentration and occurrence probability we applied four different methods, the Imbrie and Kipp Method (IKM), the Modern Analog Technique (MAT), Weighted Averaging (WA), and Weighted Averaging Partial Least Squares (WAPLS), using logarithm-transformed diatom data and satellite-derived (1981-2010) sea ice data as a reference. The best performance for IKM results was obtained using a subset of 172 samples with 28 diatom taxa/taxa groups, quadratic regression and a three-factor model (IKM-D172/28/3q) resulting in root mean square errors of prediction (RMSEP) of 7.27% and 11.4% for WSI and summer sea ice (SSI) concentration, respectively. MAT estimates were calculated with different numbers of analogs (4, 6) using a 274-sample/28-taxa reference data set (MAT-D274/28/4an, -6an) resulting in RMSEP´s ranging from 5.52% (4an) to 5.91% (6an) for WSI as well as 8.93% (4an) to 9.05% (6an) for SSI. WA and WAPLS performed less well with the D274 data set, compared to MAT, achieving WSI concentration RMSEP´s of 9.91% with WA and 11.29% with WAPLS, recommending the use of IKM and MAT. The application of IKM and MAT to surface sediment data revealed strong relations to the satellite-derived winter and summer sea ice field. Sea ice reconstructions performed on an Atlantic- and a Pacific Southern Ocean sediment core, both documenting sea ice variability over the past 150,000 years (MIS 1 – MIS 6), resulted in similar glacial/interglacial trends of IKM and MAT-based sea-ice estimates. On the average, however, IKM estimates display smaller WSI and slightly higher SSI concentration and probability at lower variability in comparison with MAT. This pattern is a result of different estimation techniques with integration of WSI and SSI signals in one single factor assemblage by applying IKM and selecting specific single samples, thus keeping close to the original diatom database and included variability, by MAT. In contrast to the estimation of WSI, reconstructions of past SSI variability remains weaker. Combined with diatom-based estimates, the abundance and flux pattern of biogenic opal represents an additional indication for the WSI and SSI extent.