Laboratory studies were conducted to characterise four different antibiotic compounds with regard to sorption and mobility in various soil types. Distribution coefficients (Kd values) determined by a batch equilibrium method varied between 0.5 and 0.7 for metronidazole, 0.7 and 1.7 for olaquindox and 8 and 128 for tylosin. Tylosin sorption seems to correlate positively with the soil clay content. No other significant interactions between soil characteristics and sorption were observed. Oxytetracycline was particularly strongly sorbed in all soils investigated, with Kd values between 417 in sand soil and 1026 in sandy loam, and no significant desorption was observed. Soil column leaching experiments indicated large differences in the mobility of the four antibiotic substances, corresponding to their respective sorption capabilities. For the weakly adsorbed substances metronidazole and olaquindox the total amounts added were recovered in the leachate of both sandy loam and sand soils. For the strongly adsorbed oxytetracyline and tylosin nothing was detected in the leachate of any of the soil types, indicating a much lower mobility. Results from defractionation and extraction of the columns (30 cm length) showed that 60-80% of the tylosin added had been leached to a depth of 5 cm in the sandy loam soil and 25 cm in the sand soil.