We analysed a widely used barcode, the V9 region of the 18S rRNA gene, to study the effect of environmental conditions on the distribution of two related heterotrophic protistan lineages in marine plankton, kinetoplastids and diplonemids. We relied on a major published dataset (Tara Oceans) where samples from the mesopelagic zone were available from just 32 of 123 locations, and both groups are most abundant in this zone. To close sampling gaps and obtain more information from the deeper ocean, we collected 57 new samples targeting especially the mesopelagic zone. We sampled in three geographic regions: the Arctic, two depth transects in the Adriatic Sea, and the anoxic Cariaco Basin. In agreement with previous studies, both protist groups are most abundant and diverse in the mesopelagic zone. In addition to that, we found that their abundance, richness, and community structure also depend on geography, oxygen concentration, salinity, temperature, and other environmental variables reflecting the abundance of algae and nutrients. Both groups studied here demonstrated similar patterns, although some differences were also observed. Kinetoplastids and diplonemids prefer tropical regions and nutrient-rich conditions and avoid high oxygen concentration, high salinity, and high density of algae.