The binding of pyrene to a number of humic substances isolated from various aquatic sources and a commercial humic acid was measured using the solubility enhancement method. The humic materials used in this study were characterized by various spectroscopic and liquid chromatography methods. A strong correlation was observed between the pyrene binding coefficient, K(doc), and the molecular weights, molar absorptivities at 280 nm, and aromaticity of the aquatic humic substances. Binding of pyrene to the commercial humic acid, however, was significantly stronger and did not obey the relationships observed between K(doc) and the chemical properties of the aquatic humic substrates. These results suggest that the molecular weight and the aromatic content of the humic substrates exert influences on the binding of nonpolar and planar aromatic molecules and that the physicochemical properties of both humic materials and organic solutes are important in controlling the speciation of nonpolar organic contaminants in natural waters.