Seasonal variations in sodium concentrations have been measured on surface-pit snow samples and on firn and ice core samples from the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Site locations include J-9 (82° 22’ S., 168° 40’ W.), Roosevelt Island dome (79° 22’ S, 161° 40’ W), C-7-1 (78° 30’ S., 177° 00’ W.), and C-7-3 (78° 20’S., 179° 51’ E.). The predominant source for the Na is sea salt, indicated by greater concentration levels at seaward sites. Al concentrations of the order of only 10–9 g/g show that the input of continental dust is comparable to that at inland Antarctic locations, and that dust contributes only a negligibly small fraction of the Na on the shelf. Maximum Na concentrations occur in the winter or early spring, as is the case for Greenland ice. The annual accumulation-rate at J-9, determined by counting Na concentration peaks with depth, is 90 kg m–2 year–1, in agreement with rates determined radiometrically. Annual cycles in Na concentration are also detectable at depth in the J-9 ice core. It is suggested that Na concentration is a useful diagnostic criterion for distinguishing between East Antarctic ice (10–8 g Na/g), West Antarctic ice (30 × 10–9 g Na/g), and ice that fell as snow on the shelf itself (> 30 × 10–9g Na/g). The transition between snow that is chemically characteristic of the ice-shelf regime to snow of an inland regime is expected to occur near the 500 m elevation contour. This position is up to 200 km inland of the grounding line. A model is presented for the large-scale decrease in Na concentration with distance inland within the ice-shelf regime. Since deeper ice in Ross Ice Shelf cores originated generally further from the ocean, the up-stream origin of shelf ice may be estimated from the chemical profile. The Little America V ice-core chemistry profile shows no discontinuity as would be expected if a recent surge of West Antarctic ice had occurred.