For purposes of assessing the maceral distribution of Illinois (U.S.A.) coals analyses were assembled for 326 face channel and drill core samples from 24 coal members of the Pennsylvanian System. The inertinite content of coals from the Missourian and Virgilian Series averages 16.1% (mineral free), compared to 9.4% for older coals from the Desmoinesian and older Series. This indicates there was generally a higher state of oxidation in the peat that formed the younger coals. This state probably resulted from greater exposure of these peats to weathering as the climate became drier and the water table lower than was the case for the older coals, although oxidation during allochthonous deposition of inertinite components is a genetic factor that needs further study to confirm the importance of the climate. Regional variation of the vitrinite-inertinite ratio (V-I), on a mineral- and micrinite-free basis, was observed in the Springfield (No. 5) and Herrin (No. 6) Coal Members to be related to the geographical position of paleochannel (river) deposits known to have been contemporaneous with the peats that formed these two coal strata. The V-I ratio is highest (generally 12-27) in samples from areas adjacent to the channels, and lower (5-11) some 10-20 km away. We interpret the V-I ratio to be an inverse index of the degree of oxidation to which the original peat was exposed. High V-I ratio coal located near the channels probably formed under more anoxic conditions than did the lower V-I ratio coal some distance away from the channels. The low V-I ratio coal probably formed in areas of the peat swamp where the watertable was generally lower than the channel areas. ?? 1986.