During the present study, microcystin (MCYST) concentrations in the Nile River and irrigation canal sediments, Egypt, were investigated during the period January-December 2001. Batch experiments were also conducted to confirm the adsorption of MCYSTs on these sediments. The results of field study showed that MCYST concentrations in the sediments were correlated with total count of cyanobacteria, particularly Microcystis aeruginosa, and MCYST within phytoplankton cells in most sites. No detectable levels of MCYSTs were found in the cell-free water of all studied sites in the Nile River and irrigation canals during the entire study period. The data obtained from batch adsorption experiments confirmed the capability of the Nile River and irrigation canal sediments for MCYST adsorption; and that adsorption was sediment weight-dependent and thus fitted the Freundlich adsorption isotherm. The results also revealed that both adsorption capacity (K(f)) and intensity (1/n) varied significantly with clay and organic matter contents of these sediments. The results of present study have two implications. First, the presence of cyanobacterial toxins in freshwater sediments can affect benthic organisms inhabiting these sediments, and thus it should be considered during biological monitoring of rivers and streams. Second, the ability of freshwater sediments to adsorb cyanobacterial toxins suggests that bank filtration could be used in developing countries (e.g., Egypt), which require an inexpensive and low-maintenance method for removing these toxins from drinking water.