The possibility of the annual skeletal growth bands of reef-building corals containing a record of lead additions to the marine environment was investigated using coral skeletons from St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Concentrations of lead within a coral from a polluted reef averaged 395 ng/g, five fold higher than within a coral from a pristine site, 87 ng/g. The lead chronologies of both corals showed a significant increase in concentration towards the present during the past 26 yr. The increase in lead concentration in the coral from the pristine site is suggested to represent the increase in lead availability from global pollution. Coral skeletons offer the probability of development into tools for long term chemical recorders of levels of lead and possibly other metals or compounds in seawater. 50 references, 3 figures, 1 table.