In general, water repellency by soil increases with the increase of total organic matter and decreases as the clay and silt contents of the soil increase. The prediction of water repellency from soil organic carbon (OC) content may be improved by examining the types of carbon associated with water repellency. This paper examines the hypothesis that measurement of aliphatic C can provide a better prediction of water repellency than measurement of total OC and also looks at the effects of soil texture on water repellency and the amount of aliphatic C in the soil.DRIFT ( diffuse reflectance infrared fourier transform) spectra were measured on sandy soils from the West Midland Sandplains north of Perth in Western Australia. The areas of the aliphatic CH stretching signal (3000-2800 cm(-1)) and the OH stretching signal due to kaolin (3750-3570/cm) were used as relative measures of aliphatic carbon and kaolin contents. The relationships of aliphatic C and kaolin to water repellency have been examined and compared with the relationships of water repellency to total OC and clay contents of soil.Hydrophobic organic C as measured by DRIFT gave a better prediction of soil water repellency (r(2) = 0.45) than did the total OC (r(2) = 0.36). The specific hydrophobicity of organic matter ( aliphatic C/OC ratio) increased as sand content increased. However, the direct influence of soil texture on water repellency was of more significance than its indirect influence on the amounts and forms of soil organic matter. A multivariate model including aliphatic C and clay + silt content was the best model for describing water repellency (r(2) = 0.58). DRIFT is an effective, rapid method for screening soils for water repellent properties.For individual sand grains there was a weak positive relationship (r(2) = 0.26) between the size of the aliphatic CH peak measured from surfaces of sand grains and the water repellency of the grains. A discontinuous aliphatic surface layer was present on the surface of individual sand grains.