Data collected in North Carolina during 1973-78 from a statewide network of 39 rural sampling sites were used to define unpolluted or baseline stream quality. The basins were 90 to 100 percent forested and, except for the unknown effects of air pollution, were relatively unaffected by man 's activities. Five distinct geochemical zones were delineated across the State. The chemical characteristics of surface waters in each zone are similar. Mean and other statistical values for major dissolved constituents, nutrients, and minor elements in base runoff and storm runoff were determined. Twenty additional rural sites were located in basins where farming activities ranged from 15 to 55 percent of basins' land area. Data from these 20 sites were used for comparison with data from the 39 unpolluted sites to determine the increase in constituent levels caused by man. For basins where farming activities accounted for 20 or more percent of total land use, phosphorus levels were 2 to 13 times greater than those from the forested basins and several major constituents were 2 to 3 times greater. Concentrations of minor elements were essentially the same in both developed and undeveloped basins.