This study is the first assessment of the quantitative impact of parasitic chytrids on a planktonic food web. We used a carbon-based food web model of Lake Pavin (Massif Central, France) to investigate the effects of chytrids during the spring diatom bloom by developing models with and without chytrids. Linear inverse modelling procedures were employed to estimate undetermined flows in the lake. The Monte Carlo Markov chain linear inverse modelling procedure provided estimates of the ranges of model-derived fluxes. Model results support recent theories on the probable impact of parasites on food web function. In the lake, during spring, when 'inedible' algae (unexploited by planktonic herbivores) were the dominant primary producers, the epidemic growth of chytrids significantly reduced the sedimentation loss of algal carbon to the detritus pool through the production of grazer-exploitable zoospores. We also review some theories about the potential influence of parasites on ecological network properties and argue that parasitism contributes to longer carbon path lengths, higher levels of activity and specialization, and lower recycling. Considering the "structural asymmetry" hypothesis as a stabilizing pattern, chytrids should contribute to the stability of aquatic food webs.