The late Oligocene experienced atmospheric concentrations of CO2 between 400 and 750 ppm, which are within the IPCC projections for this century, assuming unabated CO2 emissions. However, Antarctic ice sheet and Southern Ocean paleoceanographic configurations during the late Oligocene are not well resolved, but are important to understand the influence of high-latitude Southern Hemisphere feedbacks on global climate under such CO2 scenarios. Here, we present late Oligocene (26–25 Ma) ice sheet and paleoceanographic reconstructions recorded in sediments recovered by IODP Site U1356, offshore of the Wilkes Land margin in East Antarctica. Our study, based on a combination of sediment facies analysis, physical properties, and geochemical parameters, shows that glacial and interglacial sediments are continuously reworked by bottom-currents, with maximum velocities occurring during the interglacial periods. Glacial sediments record poorly ventilated, low-oxygenation bottom water conditions, interpreted to represent a northward shift of westerly winds and surface oceanic fronts. During interglacial times, more oxygenated and ventilated conditions prevailed, which suggests enhanced mixing of the water masses with enhanced current velocities. Micritic limestone intervals within some of the interglacial facies represent warmer paleoclimatic conditions when less corrosive warmer northern component water (e.g. North Atlantic sourced deep water) had a greater influence on the site. The lack of iceberg rafted debris (IRD) throughout the studied interval contrasts with early Oligocene and post-Oligocene sections from Site U1356 and with late Oligocene strata from the Ross Sea (CRP and DSDP 270), which contain IRD and evidence for coastal sea ice and glaciers. These observations, supported by elevated paleotemperatures and the absence of sea-ice, suggest that between 26 and 25 Ma reduced glaciers or ice caps occupied the terrestrial lowlands of the Wilkes Land margin. Unlike today, the continental shelf was not over-deepened, and thus marine-based ice sheet expansion was likely limited to coastal regions. Combined, these data suggest that ice sheets in the Wilkes Subglacial Basin were largely land-based, and therefore retreated as a consequence of surface melt during late Oligocene, rather than direct ocean forcing and marine ice sheet instability processes as it did in younger past warm intervals. Spectral analysis on late Oligocene sediments from the eastern Wilkes Land margin show that the glacial-interglacial cyclicity and resulting displacements of the Southern Ocean frontal systems between 26–25 Ma were forced by obliquity.