Izmit Bay is one of the most polluted and populated enclosed sea in Turkey. It has been the centre of industrial activities for the last 30 years. Seven major sources enter the bay waters along the north coastline of the bay. This investigation forms part of continuing ecotoxicology studies in the Izmit Bay designed to constrain and minimise the pollution caused by flourishing industry and a growing population. Sediments sampled from the mouths of the major discharges of Izmit Bay were analysed for their organic carbon, total. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (t-PAH) and trace inorganic element (Cd, Al, As, Pb, Hg and Cu) contents and compared with those found in the sediments from the reference station in the outer bay tin the Marmara Sea). The toxicity of sediments was determined in the bulk and elutriate samples by using algal (Phaeodactylum tricornutum) batch bioassays. Chemical data showed that the sediments collected from the inner sites of the bay have been contaminated with Cd, Hg, As and PAHs. Organic carbon contents were also found higher. All the major industrial discharges into the bay are now biologically treated but bioassays performed with bulk sediments revealed that the recent sediments are toxic to the microalgae throughout the bay. The results are consistent with the previous toxicity studies performed with the industrial discharges. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.