This study assesses how rivers, wetlands, island drains and open water habitats within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta affect dissolved organic matter (DOM) content and composition, and disinfection byproduct (DBP) formation. Eleven sites representative of these habitats were sampled on six dates to encompass seasonal variability. Using a suite of qualitative analyses, including specific DBP formation potential, absorbance, fluorescence, lignin content and composition, C and N stable isotopic compositions, and structural groupings determined using CPMAS (cross polarization, magic angle spinning) 13C NMR, we applied a geochemical fingerprinting approach to characterize the DOM from different Delta habitats, and infer DOM and DBP precursor sources and estimate the relative contribution from different sources. Although river input was the predominant source of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), we observed that 13-49% of the DOC exported from the Delta originated from sources within the Delta, depending on season. Interaction with shallow wetlands and subsided islands significantly increased DOC and DBP precursor concentrations and affected DOM composition, while deep open water habitats had little discernable effect. Shallow wetlands contributed the greatest amounts of DOM and DBP precursors in the spring and summer, in contrast to island drains which appeared to be an important source during winter months. The DOM derived from wetlands and island drains had greater haloacetic acid precursor content relative to incoming river water, while two wetlands contributed DOM with greater propensity to form trihalomethanes. These results are pertinent to restoration of the Delta. Large scale introduction of shallow wetlands, a proposed restoration strategy, could alter existing DOC and DBP precursor concentrations, depending on their hydrologic connection to Delta channels. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd.