The northward flowing Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) is a major contributor to the large-scale meridional circulation of water masses in the Atlantic. Together with bottom and thermocline water, AAIW replaces North Atlantic Deep Water that penetrates into the South Atlantic from the North. On the northbound propagation of AAIW from its formation area in the south-western region of the Argentine Basin, the AAIW progresses through a complex spreading pattern at the base of the main thermocline. This paper presents trajectories of 75 subsurface floats, seeded at AAIW depth. The floats were acoustically tracked, covering a period from December 1992 to October 1996, Discussions of selected trajectories focus on mesoscale kinematic elements that contribute to the spreading of AAIW. In the equatorial region, intermittent westward and eastward currents were observed, suggesting a seasonal cycle of the AAIW flow direction. At tropical latitudes, just offshore the intermediate western boundary current, the southward advection of an anticyclonic eddy was observed between 5 degrees S and 11 degrees S. Farther offshore, the flow lacks an advective pattern and is governed by eddy diffusion. The westward subtropical gyre return current at about 28 degrees S shows considerable stability, with the mean kinetic energy to eddy kinetic energy ratio being around one. Farther south, the eastward deeper South Atlantic Current is dominated by large-scale meanders with particle velocities in excess of 60 cm s(-1). At the Brazil-Falkland Current Confluence Zone, a cyclonic eddy near 40 degrees S 50 degrees W seems to act as injector of freshly mixed AAIW into the subtropical gyre. In general, much of the mixing of the various blends of AAIW is due to the activity of mesoscale eddies, which frequently reoccupy similar positions. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.