The U.S. Geological Survey investigated the water quality of the Kentucky River Basin in Kentucky as part of the National Water Quality Assessment program. Data collected during 1987-90 were used to describe the spatial and temporal variability of nutrients, suspended sediment, and pesticides in streams. Concentrations of phosphorus were signifi- cantly correlated with urban and agricultural land use. The high phosphorus content of Bluegrass Region soils was an important source of phosphorus in streams. At many sites in urban areas, all of the stream nitrogen load was attributable to wastewater- treatment-plant effluent. Tributary streams affected by agricultural sources of nutrients contained higher densities of phytoplankton than streams that drained forested areas. Data indicate that a consid- erable percentage of total nitrogen was transported as algal biomass during periods of low discharge. Average suspended-sediment concentrations for the study period were positively correlated with dis- charge. There was a downward trend in suspended- sediment concentrations downstream in the Kentucky River main stem during the study. Although a large amount of suspended sediment originates in the Eastern Coal Field Region, contributions of suspended sediment from the Red River and other tributary streams of the Knobs Region also are important. The most frequently detected herbicides in water samples were atrazine, 2,4-D, alachlor, metolachlor, and dicamba. Diazinon, malathion, and parathion were the most frequently detected organo- phosphate insecticides in water samples. Detectable concentrations of aldrin, chlordane, DDT, DDE, dieldrin, endrin, endosulfan, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, and lindane were found in streambed- sediment samples.