A sampling program has been undertaken to investigate the variations of disinfection by-products (DBPs) formation and nature and fate of natural organic matter (NOM) through water treatment plants in Istanbul. Specific focus has been given to the effect seasonal changes on the formation of DBPs and organic precursors levels. Water samples were collected from the three reservoirs inlet and within three major water treatment plants of Istanbul, Turkey. Changes in the dissolved organic carbon (DOC), ultraviolet absorbance at 254 nm (UV254), specific ultraviolet absorbance (SUVA), trihalomethane formation potential (THMFP), and haloacetic acids formation potential (HAAFP) were measured for both the treated and raw water samples. The variations of THM and HAA concentrations within treatment processes were monitored and also successfully assessed. The reactivity of the organic matter changed throughout the year with the lowest reactivity (THMFP and HAAFP) in winter, increasing in spring and reaching a maximum in fall season. This corresponded to the water being easier to treat in fall and an increase in the proportion of hydrophobic content. Understanding the seasonal changes in organic matter character and their reactivity with treatment chemicals should lead to a better optimization of the treatment processes and a more consistent water quality. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.