The influence of geology, discharge regime, slope, vegetation type, vegetation density and permafrost conditions on periglacial channel morphology has been investigated in the Usa catchment (northern European Russia). Rivers are dominated by meandering or anabranching plan forms and rarely show braiding characteristics, despite a nival discharge regime, the presence of discontinuous permafrost and locally steep slopes. The dense vegetation cover is an important factor in determining the meandering morphology as it inhibits the sediment supply and hence braided conditions. Differences in vegetation types (taiga in the south, tundra in the north) have no effect on channel plan form. © 2002 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.