The interplay between localized surface plasmon (LSP) and surface plasmon-polariton (SPP) is studied in detail in a system composed of a three-dimensional gold particle located at a short distance from a gold thin film. Important frequency shifts of the LSP associated with the particle are observed for spacing distances between 0 and 50 nm. Beyond this distance the LSP and SPP resonances overlap, although some cavity effects between the particle and the film can still be observed. In particular, when the spacing increases the field in the cavity decreases more slowly than one would expect from a simple image dipole interpretation. For short separations the coupling between the particle and the film can produce a dramatic enhancement of the electromagnetic field in the space between them, where the electric field intensity can reach 5000 times that of the illumination field. Several movies show the spectral and time evolutions of the field distribution in the system both in and out of resonance. The character of the different modes excited in the system is studied. They include dipolar and quadrupolar modes, the latter exhibiting essentially a magnetic response. (c) 2006 Optical Society of America