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The variability of the drop size distribution (DSD) is one of the factors that must be considered in understanding the uncertainties in the retrieval of oceanic precipitation from passive microwave observations. Here, we have used observations from the Precipitation Radar on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission spacecraft to infer the relationship between the DSD and the rain rate and the variability in this relationship. The impact on passive microwave rain rate retrievals varies with frequency and rain rate. The total uncertainty for a given pixel can be slightly larger than 10% at the low end (ca. 10 GHz) of frequencies commonly used for this purpose and smaller at higher frequencies (up to 37 GHz). Since the error is not totally random, averaging many pixels, as in a monthly rainfall total, should roughly halve this uncertainty. The uncertainty may be lower at rain rates less than about 30 mm/h, but the lack of sensitivity of the surface reference technique to low rain rates makes it impossible to tell from the present data set.