Dinoflagellate cysts and XRF core scanning data from two marine sediment cores from embayments north (Bonavista Bay) and south (Placentia Bay) of Newfoundland show significant changes in ocean and atmospheric conditions of the SW Labrador Sea region during the last 5700 years. Fresh and cold conditions, probably accompanied by seasonal sea ice, prevailed both north and south of Newfoundland from c. 5.7 to 4.0 cal. kyr BP. This may be linked to intensified Labrador Current export of cold meltwater and/or sea ice from the Arctic, presumably related to warmer conditions in the northernmost latitudes and the prevalence of strong (north)westerly winds. After c. 4.0 cal. kyr BP, sea-surface conditions warmed up and sea ice decreased northeast of Newfoundland, but conditions were still cold south of Newfoundland. This suggests a decrease in Arctic meltwater export and westerly wind strength. After 2.9–2.5 cal. kyr BP, only minor changes in sea-surface conditions affected the study sites. Sea-surface temperatures increased and sea ice decreased at both sites, which may be related to a more meridional atmospheric circulation pattern associated with the general Northern Hemisphere neoglacial cooling. In Placentia Bay the warmest part of the record corresponds to the Roman Warm Period, while the warmest part of the records in Bonavista Bay notably corresponds to the Dark Ages.