Field and laboratory experiments indicate that a number of factors associated with filtration other than just pore size (e.g., diameter, manufacturer, volume of sample processed, amount of suspended sediment in the sample) can produce significant variations in the 'dissolved' concentrations of such elements as Fe, Al, Cu, Zn, Pb, Co, and Ni. The bulk of these variations result from the inclusion/exclusion of colloidally associated trace elements in the filtrate, although dilution and sorption/desorption from filters also may be factors. Thus, dissolved trace element concentrations quantitated by analyzing filtrates generated by processing whole water through similar pore-sized filters may not be equal or comparable. As such, simple filtration of unspecified volumes of natural water through unspecified 0.45-??m membrane filters may no longer represent an acceptable operational definition for a number of dissolved chemical constituents.