The chemical composition of soluble impurities along the Dome C ice core covering approximately the last 30 000 years is reported and interpreted in terms of atmospheric contributions. Terrestrial and sea-salt inputs are known to have been much higher during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) than during the Holocene period. For this reason, the gas-derived compounds (mainly H2SO4 and HNO3) which dominate the chemistry of present-day snow are minor components in LGM snow. The exact calculation of each of the various contributions has been made possible by the determination of all major ions (H+, Na+, K+, NH4
+, Mg2+, Ca2+, NO3
2− and Cl−) in the samples. Three additional deep ice cores from other Antarctic areas have also been analyzed, but in a less comprehensive manner than the Dome C core. The differences observed at the four study sites increase the general understanding of the past atmospheric chemistry of the Southern Hemisphere.