Accurately estimating various solute loads in streams during storms is critical to accurately determine maximum daily loads for regulatory purposes. This study investigates the impact of sampling strategy on solute load estimates in streams in the US Midwest. Three different solute types (nitrate, magnesium, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC)) and three sampling strategies are assessed. Regardless of the method, the average error on nitrate loads is higher than for magnesium or DOC loads, and all three methods generally underestimate DOC loads and overestimate magnesium loads. Increasing sampling frequency only slightly improves the accuracy of solute load estimates but generally improves the precision of load calculations. This type of investigation is critical for water management and environmental assessment so error on solute load calculations can be taken into account by landscape managers, and sampling strategies optimized as a function of monitoring objectives. ?? 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.