We studied the biological characteristics of drinking-water in three villages in Ramallah and al-Bireh district, by testing the total coliforms. Water samples were collected from rain-fed cisterns between October and November 2001. The results show that 87% of tested samples of drinking-water were highly contaminated and in need of coagulation, filtration and disinfection based on the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking-water, and 10.5% had low contamination and were in need of treatment by disinfection only. Only 2.5% of the tested samples were not contaminated and were suitable for drinking without treatment. The main cause of drinking-water con tamination was the presence of cesspits, wastewater and solid waste dumping sites near the cisterns.