Abstract: Aim: We aimed to assess the influence of bottom-up and top-down control mechanisms on the abundance and size structure of protist communities (heterotrophic flagellates and ciliates). We formulated the following hypothesis: bottom-up control mechanisms, related to the availability of resources in the environment, are responsible for structuring the abundance of these communities, whereas top-down control mechanisms, related to predation effects, determine the size pattern of these organisms. Methods Samples for planktonic organisms were taken in 20 shallow lakes belonging to the upper Paraná River floodplain. We evaluated linear regression models to select the best model which predicts the patterns observed according to Akaike Information Criterion. Results The best models selected to explain the abundance of heterotrophic flagellates included negative relations with picophytoplankton abundance and positive with rotifers abundance, while for their size structure, negative relationships were found with heterotrophic bacteria, ciliates and rotifers biovolumes. In relation to the ciliates, their abundances were positively related to the rotifers and picophytoplankton abundances and negatively with the heterotrophic bacteria abundance. On the other hand, for the size structure, the best models selected strong negative relations with the microcrustaceans biovolumes, in addition to relations with the different fractions of the phytoplankton. Conclusion For both flagellates and ciliates, their abundance is being mainly regulated by a bottom up control mechanism, whereas for the size structure the results showed that both food resources and predators were important, indicating that bottom-up and top-down mechanisms act simultaneously in determining the size of these microorganisms.