||Dispersal of fish early life stages explains part of the recruitment success, through interannual variability in spawning, transport and survival. Dispersal results from a complex interaction between physical and biological processes acting at different temporal and spatial scales, and at the individual or population level. In this paper we quantify the response of anchovy egg and larval dispersal in the Bay of Biscay to the following sources of variability: vertical larval behaviour, drift duration, adult spawning location and timing, and spatio-temporal variability in the hydrodynamics. We use simulations of Lagrangian trajectories in a 3-dimensional hydrodynamic model, as well as spatial indices describing different properties of the dispersal kernel: the mean transport (distance, direction), its variance, occupation of space by particles and their aggregation. We show that larval drift duration has a major impact on the dispersion at scales of not, vert, similar100 km, but that vertical behaviour becomes dominant reducing dispersion at scales of not, vert, similar1–10 km. Spawning location plays a major role in explaining connectivity patterns, in conjunction with spawning temporal variability. Interannual variability in the circulation dominates over seasonal variability. However, seasonal patterns become predominant for coastal spawning locations, revealing a recurrent shift in the direction of dispersal during the anchovy spawning season.