The partition coefficients (Koc) of carbon tetrachloride and 1,2-dichlorobenzene between normal soil/sediment organic matter and water have been determined for a large set of soils, bed sediments, and suspended solids from the United States and the People's Republic of China. The Koc values for both solutes are quite invariant either for the soils or for the bed sediments; the values on bed sediments are about twice those on soils. The similarity of Koc values between normal soils and between normal bed sediments suggests that natural organic matters in soils (or sediments) of different geographic origins exhibit comparable polarities and possibly comparable compositions. The results also suggest that the process that converts eroded soils into bed sediments brings about a change in the organic matter property. The difference between soil and sediment Koc values provides a basis for identifying the source of suspended solids in river waters. The very high Koc values observed for some special soils and sediments are diagnostic of severe anthropogenic contamination.