The recolonization process of Lanice conchilega has been studied on an intertidal sand flat in the northern Wadden Sea after an intertidal population had been wiped out during the severe winter of 1995/96. After very low recruitment in the first two years, the population fully recovered in the third year after its destruction. Then, the distribution pattern resembled closely the pattern before the severe winter with >95% of all Lanice occurring below -0.5 m mean tidal level and dominance of the density categories 6-50 ind m-2 and 51-200 ind m-2. Lanice larvae have been described to attach preferentially at the tubes of adults. However, the high recruitment in the third year was also observed in areas devoid of adult Lanice, indicating that settlement facilitation by adults was of little importance for the recolonization process. Instead, we suggest that the observed recruitment pattern was a consequence of a large scale decline of the metapopulation in the tidal basin and the onshore coastal subtidal which resulted in insufficient larval supply onto the tidal flats and low recruitment in the first two years following the severe winter.