Data from a continuing, comprehensive study of four rivers (Rhein at Rheinfelden; Aare at Brugg; Reuss at Mellingen; Rhone at Porte du Scex) have been interpreted with respect to organic carbon, the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous, several metals and the geochemical parameters. The load due to civilization is clearly seen in the elevated concentrations of organic carbon, phosphorous, ammonium, sodium and chloride as compared to natural levels. However, with the exception of dissolved organic carbon, the concentrations are below the Swiss river standards. The chemical erosion as measured in the rivers below the lakes bordering on the Alps is ca. 0.07 mm per year for the entire drainage basin, and is thus markedly higher than that for mechanical erosion. For the Rhone, before it flows into Lake Geneva, the chemical erosion is ca. 0.05 mm per year, which is only about one fourth of the mechanical erosion.