The bacterial turnover of organic matter was investigated in Fram Strait at 79°N. Both Atlantic Water (AW) inflow and exported Polar Water (PW) were sampled along a transect from Spitsbergen to the eastern Greenland shelf during a late successional stage of the main annual phytoplankton bloom in summer. AW showed higher concentrations of amino acids than PW, while organic matter in PW was enriched in combined carbohydrates. Bacterial growth and degradation activity in AW and PW were related to compositional differences of organic matter. Bacterial production and leucine-aminopeptidase along the transect were significantly correlated with concentrations of amino acids. Activity ratios between the extracellular enzymes β-glucosidase and leucine-aminopeptidase indicate the hydrolysis potential for polysaccharides relative to proteins. Along the transect, these ratios showed a higher hydrolysis potential for polysaccharides relative to proteins in PW than in AW, thus reflecting the differences in organic matter composition between the water masses. Q10 values for bacterial production ranged from 2.4 (± 0.8) to 6.0 (± 6.8), while those for extracellular enzymes showed a broader range of 1.5 (± 0.5) to 23.3 (± 11.8). Our results show that in addition to low seawater temperature also organic matter availability contributes to the regulation of bacterial growth and enzymatic activity in the Arctic Ocean.