The Late Permian Shaiwa Group of the Ziyun area of Guizhou, South China is a deep-water facies succession characterized by deep-water assemblages of pelagic radiolarians, foraminifers, bivalves, ammonoids and brachiopods. Here we report 20 brachiopod species in 18 genera from the uppermost Shaiwa Group. This brachiopod fauna is latest Changhsingian in age and dominated by productides. The palaeoecologic and taphonomic analysis reveals that the brachiopod fauna is preserved in situ. The attachment modes and substratum preference demonstrate that the Shaiwa brachiopod fauna comprises admixed elements of deep-water and shallow-water assemblages. The presence of the shallow-water brachiopods in the Shaiwa faunas indicates the involuntary settlement of shallow-water brachiopods. The stressed ecologic pressure, triggered by warming surface waters, restricted ecospace and short food sources, may have forced some shallow-water elements to move to hospitable deep-water settings and others to modify their habiting behaviours and exploit new ecospace in deep-water environments. We infer that the end-Permian global warming and subsequent transgression event may have accounted for the stressed environmental pressure in the shallow-water communities prior to the end-Permian mass extinction. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.