Phytoplankton and associated microbial communities provide organic carbon to oceanic food webs and drive ecosystem dynamics. However, capturing those dynamics is challenging. Here, an in situ, semi-Lagrangian, robotic sampler profiled pelagic microbes at 4 h intervals over ~2.6 days in North Pacific high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll waters. We report on the community structure and transcriptional dynamics of microbes in an operationally large size class (>5 μm) predominantly populated by dinoflagellates, ciliates, haptophytes, pelagophytes, diatoms, cyanobacteria (chiefly Synechococcus), prasinophytes (chiefly Ostreococcus), fungi, archaea, and proteobacteria. Apart from fungi and archaea, all groups exhibited 24-h periodicity in some transcripts, but larger portions of the transcriptome oscillated in phototrophs. Periodic photosynthesis-related transcripts exhibited a temporal cascade across the morning hours, conserved across diverse phototrophic lineages. Pronounced silica:nitrate drawdown, a high flavodoxin to ferredoxin transcript ratio, and elevated expression of other Fe-stress markers indicated Fe-limitation. Fe-stress markers peaked during a photoperiodically adaptive time window that could modulate phytoplankton response to seasonal Fe-limitation. Remarkably, we observed viruses that infect the majority of abundant taxa, often with total transcriptional activity synchronized with putative hosts. Taken together, these data reveal a microbial plankton community that is shaped by recycled production and tightly controlled by Fe-limitation and viral activity.