The density and composition of stream bed metal deposits are affected by physical, chemical and biological processes. In this paper we investigate the importance of these processes and their relation to algal and non-photosynthetic detrital (NPD) biomass in a set of upland streams in Northern Ireland. Deposit density and Fe, Mn, Al and P concentrations varied with stream pH across sites but not seasonally. No effects of stream bed erosion or photoreduction were detected on deposit densities. Seasonal variation in stream water metal concentrations was correlated with rainfall. NPD biomass was a significant predictor of both spatial and seasonal variation in deposit concentrations. There were strong, non-linear, relations between NPD biomass and deposit metal concentrations, with Fe and Mn becoming relatively more important and algal biomass declining above threshold deposit/NPD densities. The results suggest that NPD biomass influences deposit density and reduces the biomass of photosynthetic autotrophs above a threshold deposit density.