Trace element data from 59 Pliocene lignite cores from the lignite field in the Kosovo Basin, southern Serbia, show localized enrichment of Ni and Cr (33-304 ppm and 8-176 ppm, respectively, whole-coal basis). Concentrations of both elements decrease from the western and southern boundaries of the lignite field. Low-temperature ash and polished coal pellets of selected bench and whole-coal samples were analyzed by X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray analyses. These analyses show that most of the Ni and Cr are incorporated in detrital and, to a lesser degree, in authigenic minerals. The Ni- and Cr-bearing detrital minerals include oxides, chromites, serpentine-group minerals and rare mixed-layer clays. Possible authigenic minerals include Ni-Fe sulfates and sulfides. Analyses of three lignite samples by a supercritical fluid extraction technique indicate that some (1-11%) of the Ni is organically bound. Ni- and Cr-bearing oxides, mixed-layer clays, chromites and serpentine-group minerals were also identified in weathered and fresh samples of laterite developed on serpentinized Paleozoic peridotite at the nearby Glavica and C??ikatovo Ni mines. These mines are located along the western and northwestern rim, respectively, of the Kosovo Basin, where Ni contents are highest. The detrital Ni- and Cr-bearing minerals identified in lignite samples from the western part of the Kosovo Basin may have been transported into the paleoswamp by rivers that drained the two Paleocene laterites. Some Ni may have been transported directly into the paleoswamp in solution or, alternatively, Ni may have been leached from detrital minerals by acidic peat water and adsorbed onto organic matter and included into authigenic mineral phases. No minable source of Ni and Cr is known in the southern part of the lignite field; however, the mineral and chemical data from the lignite and associated rocks suggest that such a source area may exist.