A radiotracer method was used for investigation of the adsorption and desorption of radium on stream sediments under conditions similar to those prevailing in waste and surface waters. The effects of pH, ionic strength and Ca2+ or SO
ions were studied. The results were compared with analogous data characterizing radium interaction with model solids representing components of the sediments. It has been found that the adsorption affinity of the sediments for radium cannot be easily derived from their composition or other properties. No simple correlation with specific surface area, organic matter, oxidic coatings or other components of the sediments was observed. However, an exceptional role of barite (barium sulfate) in the sediments was noted. In the presence of sulfate ions (60 mg/l) this component was responsible for the uptake of predominant or at least significant part of radium, depending on the barite content of sediments. In the absence of added sulfate ions, the adsorption of radium at ph 5–9 on sediments containing barite was lower than on similar sediments without this component, indicating that other components may be more efficient in radium adsorption.