Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, hexachlorobenzene, and DDE were determined by passive sampling (semipermeable membrane devices) with exposure times of 1-1.5 years at 0.1-5 km depth in the Irminger Sea, the Canary Basin (both North Atlantic Ocean), and the Mozambique Channel (Indian Ocean). The dissipation of performance reference compounds revealed a pronounced effect of hydrostatic pressure on the sampler-water partition coefficients. Concentrations in the Irminger Sea were uniform over the entire water column (0.1-3 km). At the Canary Basin site, concentrations were 2-25 times lower near the bottom (5 km) than at 1.4 km. Concentrations in the Mozambique Channel (0.6-2.5 km) were lower than at the other two locations, and showed a near-bottom maximum. The data suggest that advection of surface waters down to a depth of about 1 km is an important mechanism of contaminant transport into the deep ocean.