The Domingo Rubio tidal channel (Palos de la Frontera, Huelva, Spain) is an estuary located in the mouth of the Tinto River. The estuary is affected by different sources of pollution (waters of the Tinto River, contaminated with trace elements from the Iberian Pyrite belt, and effluent from the Huelva chemical industrial area). Soil and the most frequent plant species were collected in 2004 and 2006 at six different locations on the estuary. In general, N-Kjedahl, Total Organic Carbon values, salinity and contamination (total trace elements up to 1,000 mg kg(-1) As, 6 mg kg(-1) Cd, 2,500 mg kg(-1) Cu, 1,900 mg kg(-1) Pb and 1,300 mg kg(-1) Zn) tended to increase downstream of the tidal channel. Soil biochemical properties were not negatively affected either by the high salinity or by trace element contamination. Despite the high values of the trace elements, analysed plant samples showed that Cu was the only metal that could be a serious risk for the food chain.