This report describes the environmental setting and investigative activities of the Sacramento River Basin study unit of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program. The Sacramento River Basin is one of 60 study units located throughout the United States that has been scheduled for study as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program. The Sacramento River Basin is the most important source of freshwater in California. Water quality studies in the Sacramento River Basin study unit focus on the Sacramento Valley because it is here that the principal uses of water and potential impacts on water quality occur. Investigative activities include a network of surface water sites, where water chemistry and aquatic biological sampling are done, and a variety of ground water studies. In addition, investigations of the cycling and distribution of volatile organic compounds in the urban environment and the distribution of total and methyl mercury in the Sacramento River and tributaries will be completed.