Sediment from 9 lakes and lagoons in 3 North African countries was analysed for a suite of organochlorine insecticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Residues of -HCH and pp-DDE were detected in most cores, and radiometric dating of the sediment enabled time profiles to be constructed which are indicative of recent use of the insecticide lindane and previous use of the insecticide DDT in the region. Absolute concentrations of these pesticides were relatively low compared to reported values for other world-wide locations, but exceeded recommended Canadian and Dutch environmental quality standards at several sites. Maximum fluxes of -HCH and pp-DDE (190 and 95 g m–2 yr–1, respectively) were relatively high and comparable to some sediments in North America and the United Kingdom. Other organochlorine pesticides including dieldrin were detected at low levels in some samples. Selected PCB congeners were detected at trace levels at 2 sites only, indicating low levels of industrial contamination at the sampling locations. Tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world have been suggested to be contemporary sources of globally distributed organochlorine contaminants. These data are discussed with respect to this hypothesis.