A major component of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment program is to assess the occurrence and distribution of trace elements and organic contaminants in streams. The first phase of the strategy for the assessment is to analyze samples of bed sediments from depositional zones. Fine-grained particles deposited in these zones are natural accumulators of trace elements and hydrophobic organic compounds. For the information to be comparable among studies in many different parts of the Nation, strategies for selecting stream sites and depositional zones are critical. Fine-grained surficial sediments are obtained from several depositional zones within a stream reach and composited to yield a sample representing average conditions. Sample collection and processing must be done consistently and by procedures specifically designed to separate the fine material into fractions that yield uncontaminated samples for trace-level analytes in the laboratory. Special coring samplers and other instruments made of Teflon are used for collection. Samples are processed through a 2.0-millimeter stainless-steel mesh sieve for organic contaminate analysis and a 63-micrometer nylon-cloth sieve for trace-element analysis. Quality assurance is maintained by strict collection and processing procedures, duplicate samplings, and a rigid cleaning procedure.