Localized contamination from research-related activities and its effects on macrofauna communities in the marine environment were investigated at Palmer Station, a medium-sized Antarctic research station. Relatively low concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; 32–302 ng g-1) and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs; 0.9–8.9 μg g-1) were detected in sediments adjacent to the sewage outfall and pier, where most human activities were expected to have occurred, and at even lower concentrations at two seemingly reference areas (PAHs 6–30 ng g-1, TPHs 0.03–5.1 μg g-1). Elevated concentrations of PAHs in one sample taken in one reference area (816 ng g-1) and polychlorinated biphenyls (353 ng g-1) and dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (3.2 and 25.3 ng g-1) in two samples taken adjacent to the sewage outfall indicate spatial heterogeneity of localized sediment contamination. Limpet (
Nacella concinna) tissues collected adjacent to Palmer Station had high concentrations of PAHs, copper, lead, zinc and several other metals relative to outlying islands. Sediment and limpet tissue contaminant concentrations have decreased since the early 1990s following the Bahía Paraísospill. Natural sediment characteristics affected macrofaunal community composition more than contamination adjacent to Palmer Station, presumably because of the low overall contamination levels.