Abstract To determine the characteristics of metal pollution sources in Ulsan Bay, East Sea, 39 surface and nine core sediments were collected within the bay and offshore area, and analyzed for metals and stable lead (Pb) isotopes. Most surface sediments (>95% from 48 sites) had high copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), and Pb concentrations that were as much as 1.3 times higher than background values. The primary source of metal contamination came from activities related to nonferrous metal refineries near Onsan Harbor, and the next largest source was from shipbuilding companies located at the mouth of the Taehwa River. Three different anthropogenic sources and background sediments could be identified as end-members using Pb isotopes. Isotopic ratios for the anthropogenic Pb revealed that the sources were imported ores from Australia, Peru, and the United States. In addition, Pb isotopes of anthropogenic Pb discharged from Ulsan Bay toward offshore could be determined.