Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating of ostracod and gastropod shells from the south-western Black Sea cores combined with tephrochronology provides the basis for studying reservoir age changes in the late-glacial Black Sea. The comparison of our data with records from the northwestern Black Sea shows that an apparent reservoir age of ~1450 14C yr found in the glacial is characteristic of a homogenized water column. This apparent reservoir age is most likely due to the hardwater effect. Though data indicate that a reservoir age of ~1450 14C yr may have persisted until the Bølling-Allerød warm period, a comparison with the GISP2 ice-core record suggests a gradual reduction of the reservoir age to ~1000 14C yr, which might have been caused by dilution effects of inflowing meltwater. During the Bølling-Allerød warm period, soil development and increased vegetation cover in the catchment area of the Black Sea could have hampered erosion of carbonate bedrock, and hence diminished contamination by "old" carbon brought to the Black Sea basin by rivers. A further reduction of the reservoir age most probably occurred contemporary to the precipitation of inorganic carbonates triggered by increased phytoplankton activity, and was confined to the upper water column. Intensified deep water formation subsequently enhanced the mixing/convection and renewal of intermediate water. During the Younger Dryas, the age of the upper water column was close to 0 yr, while the intermediate water was ~900 14C yr older. The first inflow of saline Mediterranean water, at ~8300 14C yr BP, shifted the surface water age towards the recent value of ~400 14C yr.