Toxic cyanobacterial blooms can strongly affect freshwater food web structures. However, little is known about how the patchy occurrence of blooms within systems affects the spatial distribution of zooplankton communities. We studied this by analysing zooplankton community structures in comparison with the spatially distinct distribution of a toxic Microcystis bloom in a small, shallow, eutrophic lake. While toxic Microcystis was present at all sites, there were large spatial differences in the level of cyanobacterial biomass and in the zooplankton communities; sites with persistently low cyanobacterial biomass displayed a higher biomass of adult Daphnia and higher zooplankton diversity than sites with persistently high cyanobacterial biomass. While wind was the most likely reason for the spatially distinct occurrence of the bloom, our data indicate that it was the differences in cyanobacterial biomass that caused spatial differences in the zooplankton community structures. Overall, our study suggests that even in small systems with extensive blooms 'refuge sites' exist that allow large grazers to persist, which can be an important mechanism for a successful re-establishment of the biodiversity in an ecosystem after periods of cyanobacterial blooms. © 2013 Reichwaldt et al.