A 3-D hydrodynamic model of the circulation, salinity and temperature within the embayment of Plymouth Sound, UK and its surrounding English Channel waters has been implemented. Thorough validation of the model shows that the main hydrographic features of the region, as characterized by these variables, are reproduced. The general flow characteristics, and the resultant distribution of freshwater from the main riverine source (the River Tamar), are described. The potential fate of contaminant releases within Plymouth Sound is investigated. Whitsand Bay, located south-west of Plymouth Sound, is shown to be a likely recipient for a proportion of these contaminants, irrespective of where in the Sound the release occurs, and as such is considered to be vulnerable to pollution events originating there.