Historical trends in selected water-quality variables from 1912 to 1994 in White Rock Creek Basin were identified by dated sediment cores from White Rock Lake. White Rock Lake is a 4.4-km2 reservoir filled in 1912 and located on the north side of Dallas, Texas, with a drainage area of 259 km2. Agriculture dominated land use in White Rock Creek Basin before about 1950. By 1990, 72% of the basin was urban. Sediment cores were dated using cesium-137 and core lithology. Major element concentrations changed, and sedimentation rates and percentage of clay-sized particles in sediments decreased beginning in about 1952 in response to the change in land use. Lead concentrations, normalized with respect to aluminum, were six times larger in sediment deposited in about 1978 than in pre-1952 sediment. Following the introduction of unleaded gasoline in the 1970s, normalized lead concentrations in sediment declined and stabilized at about two and one-half times the pre-1952 level. Normalized zinc and arsenic concentrations increased 66 and 76%, respectively, from before 1952 to 1994. No organochlorine compounds were detected in sediments deposited prior to about 1940. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and DDE (a metabolite of DDT) increased rapidly beginning in the 1940s and peaked in the 1960s at 21 and 20 ??g kg-1, respectively, which is coincident with their peak use in the United States. Concentrations of both declined about an order of magnitude from the 1960s to the 1990s to 3.0 and 2.0 ??g kg-1, respectively. Chlordane and dieldrin concentrations increased during the 1970s and 1980s. The largest chlordane concentration was 8.0 ??g kg-1 and occurred in a sediment sample deposited in about 1990. The largest dieldrin concentration was 0.7 ??g kg-1 and occurred in the most recent sample deposited in the early 1990s. Agricultural use of chlordane and dieldrin was restricted in the 1970s; however, both were used as termiticides, and urban use of chlordane continued at least until 1990. Recent use of dieldrin and aldrin, which degrades to dieldrin, has not been reported; however, increasing trends in dieldrin since the 1970s suggest recent urban use could have occurred.