To evaluate the extent of human impact on a pristine Antarctic environment, natural baseline levels of trace metals have been established in the basement rocks of the Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica. From a mineralogical and geochemical point of view the Larsemann Hills basement is relatively homogeneous, and contains high levels of Pb, Th and U. These may become soluble during the relatively ... mild Antarctic summer and be transported to lake waters by surface and subsurface melt water. Melt waters may also be locally enriched in V, Cr, Co, Ni, Zn and Sn derived from weathering of metabasite pods. With a few notable exceptions, the trace metal concentrations measured in the Larsemann Hills lake waters can be entirely accounted for by natural processes such as sea spray and surface melt water input. Thus, the amount of trace metals released by weathering of basement lithologies and dispersed into the Larsemann Hills environment, and presumably in similar Antarctic environments, is, in general, not negligible, and may locally be substantial.