The main river supplying Lake Naivasha, Kenya, the Malewa, drains a catchment given over to largely subsistence cultivation and animal husbandry. The lake itself is the focus for an intensive horticultural industry based upon irrigation from the lake. The Malewa, however, is relatively independent of the impact of industry, and so its contribution to eutrophication of the lake was evaluated. Two periods of study, a very wet-dry and a `normal' wet-dry season showed that the river contribution of phosphorus led to a total phosphorus loading of 1.4 g m−2 lake surface ann−1 in the very wet period compared to 0.2 in the `normal'. Chlorophyll `a' in the open water of the lake was significantly related to soluble reactive phosphorus. The lake is now eutrophic by normal limnological criteria.