Twelve precipitator-collected fly ash samples (nine derived from high-sulfur Illinois Basin coals and three from Western U.S. coals) were found to contain a variety of paraffins, aryl esters, phenols, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons including phenanthrene, pyrene, and chrysene but all at very low concentrations. Less than 1% of the organic carbon in the samples was extractable into benzene. Solubility studies with a short-term (24-h) extraction procedure and a long-term (20-week) procedure indicate that the inorganic chemical composition of some types of fly ash effluent is time dependent and may be most toxic to aquatic ecosystems when initially mixed with water and pumped to disposal ponds. Some acidic, high-Cd fly ashes would be classified as hazardous wastes if coal ash was included in this waste category by future RCRA revisions. ?? 1984 American Chemical Society.