The Belgian coastal plain occupies a key position as it is located at the transition between the Southern North Sea Basin and the Strait of Dover. It is characterized by thick sequences (> 20 m) of Pleistocene terrestrial and littoral sediments. Yet the wider stratigraphical and palaeo-environmental significance of these sediments received little attention. In this paper we draw on the results of a recent sedimentological study based on > 100 drillings that spans the Pleistocene sequence, and present new biostratigraphical (pollen, foraminifera, ostracods) data, all revealing a complex history of deposition. The record includes evidence of the development of incised-valley systems that were initiated in the late Middle and Late Pleistocene. Five phases of fluvial incision can be identified. The majority of the infills are deposited in an estuarine environment that passes into a fluvial environment land inward, except the Weichselian infill which has a predominant fluvial origin. The greatest part of the most seaward located zone of the western coastal plain was free of valley incisions, there, shallow marine sediments built up the record. Local biostratigraphical investigations provide a timeframe. The result is placed in a regional context.