Monthly-mean winds and currents have been used to identify the driving mechanisms of seasonal coastal circulation in the North Indian Ocean. The main conclusions are: (i) the surface circulation off Arabia is typical of a wind-driven system with similar patterns of longshore current and wind stress; (ii) circulation off the west coast of India is consistent with the dynamics of a wind-driven eastern boundary current only during the southwest monsoon. During the northeast monsoon it is possible that the influence of the interior flow is important. (iii) There are at least three mechanisms that influence the surface circulation off the east coast of India: wind-stress, influence of fresh-water run off and contribution of the interior flow. It is difficult at present to assess the relative importance of these three processes.