Thirteen river waters and one humic lake water were characterized. The effects of dissolved organic matter (DOM) on the bioavailability of atrazine, pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) was evaluated. Binding of the chemicals by DOM was analyzed with the equilibrium dialysis technique. For each of the water samples, 24 h bioconcentration factors (BCFs) of the chemicals were measured in Daphnia magna. The relationship between DOM and other water characteristics (including conductivity, water hardness and pH), and bioavailability of the chemicals was studied by performing several statistical analyses, including multiple regression analyses, to determine how much of the variation of BCF values could be explained by the quantity and quality of DOM. The bioavailability of atrazine was not affected by DOM or any other water characteristics. Although equilibrium dialysis showed binding of pyrene to DOM, the bioavailability of pyrene was not significantly affected by DOM. The bioavailability of B[a]P was significantly affected by both the quality and quantity of DOM. Multiple regression analyses, using the quality (ABS270 and HbA%) and quantity of DOM as variables, explainedup to 70% of the variation in BCF of B[a]P in the waters studied. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.