Untreated domestic and industrial wastes are discharged into Tolo Harbour via several major streams entering the harbour. These untreated wastes will cause a harmful effect because Tolo Harbour is a land-locked sea with only a narrow outlet and an ever-decreasing volume caused by the construction of Plover Cove Reservoir and the reclamation of Shatin New Town. In order to study the effect of polluted water discharged into the harbour, water samples and sediments near the mouths of the major rivers were collected. The analysis of the total organic carbon, total nitrogen, and water soluble phosphate contents of the samples showed that Lam Tsuen River, Tai Po Kau River, and Shing Mon River were grossly polluted by organic and inorganic wastes. Blue Snake River which passes through the iron ore tailings accumulated high contents of metal contaminants. Copyright © 1980 Published by Elsevier Ltd.