Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) commonly detected in urban waters across the United States include gasoline-related compounds (e.g. toluene, xylene) and chlorinated compounds (e.g. chloroform, tetrachloroethane [PCE], trichloroethene [TCE]). Statistical analysis of observational data and results of modeling the partitioning of VOCs between air and water suggest that urban land surfaces are the primary nonpoint source of most VOCs. Urban air is a secondary nonpoint source, but could be an important source of the gasoline oxygenate methyl-tert butyl ether (MTBE). Surface waters in urban areas would most effectively be protected by controlling land-surface sources.