The longitudinal distribution of total suspended matter and total, dissolved, and particulate manganese in a small coastal plain estuary is described. The distribution of manganese is a consequence of estuarine circulation; a within-estuary maximum is inversely correlated with river flow, and is a function of residence time in the estuary, resuspension in the upper estuary, and desorption from particles introduced from within the estuary or from the river. The turbidity maximum is similarly most pronounced during low river flows. The upper estuary (salinity < 15%), comprising a small percentage of the total estuary volume during low flow, receives material from the river and along the bottom from the lower estuary; this material is returned to the water column by resuspension and desorption from estuarine and riverine particles. The lower estuary tends to damp out these processes because of the greater volume and (residence) time available for mixing.