The Sava River is the biggest tributary to the Danube River. As a part of the 6th FW EU project, Sava River Basin: Sustainable Use, Management and Protection of Resources (SARIB), ecological status of sediments was investigated. In order to assess the geographical distribution in sediment contamination of the Sava River, inorganic and persistent organic pollutants were analyzed in sediments at 20 selected sampling sites along the Sava River from its spring to its outfall into the Danube River. For comparability of data to other river basins the sediment fraction below 63 microm was studied. Due to complexity of the work performed, the results are published separately ("Part I: Selected elements" and "Part II: Persistent organic pollutants"). In the present study, the extent of pollution was estimated by determination of the total element concentrations and by the identification of the most hazardous highly mobile element fractions and anthropogenic inputs of elements to sediments. To assess the mobile metal fraction extraction in 0.11 mol L(-1), acetic acid was performed (first step of the Community Bureau of Reference extraction procedure), while anthropogenic inputs of elements were estimated on the basis of normalization to aluminum (Al) concentration. According to the Water Framework Directive, the following elements were investigated in sediments: cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), nickel (Ni), and mercury (Hg). Furthermore, copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), chromium (Cr), arsenic (As), and phosphorous (P) were determined. The analyses of sediments demonstrated slightly elevated values for Hg, Cr, and Ni in industrially exposed sites (concentrations up to 0.6, 380, and 210 mg kg(-1), respectively). However, the latter two elements exist in sparingly soluble forms and therefore do not represent an environmental burden. P concentrations were found in elevated concentrations at agricultural areas and big cities (up to 1,000 mg kg(-1)).