A numerical model (Queen's University Multi-Phase Flow Simulator, QUMPFS) was used to assess the rate of trichloroethylene (TCE) dense, non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) migration through fractured clay, with special attention focused on the influence of interbedded sand lenses. The presence of these sand lenses was found to increase the time required for the non-wetting phase to migrate through the full 30 m vertical extent of the clay sequence from a few days to several years. Applied vertical hydraulic gradients were found to be moderately influential in systems consisting solely of fractured clays, yet one of the dominant factors controlling speed of vertical migration when sand lenses were present. Larger displacement pressure of the sands relative to that of the fractures leads to slower DNAPL migration rates, due to the delays that occur during build-up of capillary pressures. Dissolution of DNAPL and subsequent matrix diffusion of the aqueous phase has little effect on the rate of DNAPL migration through systems consisting of fractured clay only, yet slows the rate of migration in systems containing sand lenses. In all cases examined, the rate of DNAPL loading to the lower aquifer far exceeded the rate of aqueous phase mass loading, It was also found that DNAPL reaches the lower aquifer at approximately the same time as the aqueous phase plumes even for systems experiencing downward groundwater flow due to the attenuation of the aqueous phase through matrix diffusion. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.