Abstract The small Mediterranean riverine system of the Litheos river, which flows through the city of Trikala, and its drainage area are subjected to pollution from point and non point sources,which results in poor quality of surface waters. The pollution sources include urban activities, agriculture, industrial activities, handicrafts and traffic. The concentration levels and the geochemical behaviour of nutrients, trace metals and organic pollutants were studied during the period 1991–1992, in a project supported by the Municipality of Trikala. The simultaneous existence of several polluting sources leads to significant variations in the concentrations and distributions of main pollutants, which are elevated in the neighbourhood of polluting activities in various parts of the river (NO 3 − above the city, NH 3, NO 2 − and detergents near central rainwater collector, into the city, P04 below the city, near the waste water treatment plant, PAI-Is and metals in another river branch in the ‘industrial’ zone of the city). The appearance of concentration maxima of various pollutants in various parts of the river indicates environmental problems in the whole length of the river. The water quality is significantly influenced and in most cases is unsuitable for human consumption. The mean values of the main pollutants in Litheos (NO 3 − 4.0 mg N/1, NH 3 0.23 mg N/1, NO 2 − 0.10 mg N/1, P 0.37 mg P/1, Cu 7.1 μg/l, Pb 4.8 μg/l, Zn 3.9 μg/l, Ni 12.8 μg/l, Cr 3.5 μg/l) characterize Litheos as a moderately polluted river, but the observation of eutrophication phenomena and the appearance of some high concentrations of heavy metals and/or organic pollutants in certain parts of the river reveal that a serious effort must be made in order to avoid further deterioration of Litheos water quality.