Automated electron probe X-ray microanalysis was used to characterize some 15.000 individual suspension particles from 50 samples of suspended matter collected from different depths at 18 stations throughout the Baltic Sea and the transient area to the North Sea. For each particle, 14 minor and major elements were determined and size information data were obtained. To process this huge amount of results, multivariate analysis techniques were invoked: the particles were classified into specific types and the abundance variations of these groups were studied. It appeared that 80% of all investigated particles contained mostly silicon, and seemed to consist of quartz, and K-rich and Fe-rich aluminosilicates. The abundance of BaSO4 particles averaged 5% throughout the Baltic Sea, but amounted to up to 44% at some stations. The abundance of the Fe-rich particles varied significantly with location and depth, and averaged ~4%. They were often found to be associated with significant amounts of P. Both of these particle types and the Mn-rich particles are thought to be mainly authigenic. Calcium carbonate particles are more abundant towards the North Sea (which seems to act as a source). Principal component analysis of the data revealed that most of the compositional variability can be explained by differences between deep and surface waters and by the influences of inflowing North Sea waters. Additional information about the types and sources of the suspended matter in the Baltic Sea was gained from the comparison and correlation of the single particle results with different fractions of the bulk concentrations of elements such as Al, Ca, Mn, Fe, Zn and Ba.