Weight loss from Podostemum ceratophyllum, Elodea canadensis, Potamogeton crispus, Justicia americana, and Typha latifolia was measured by exposing air dried leaf material in 15 cm2 nylon mesh bags (3 mm octagonal openings). Breakdown rates for these species were 0.037, 0.026, 0.02l, 0.016, and 0.007 day-1, respectively. In general, these rates are much faster than reported rates of tree leaf breakdown in streams. Shredders accounted for 35% of the macroinvertebrates found on the leaf bags. However, macroinvertebrate densities on the aquatic macrophyte tissue were well below densities commonly found on leaf bags in small streams. The rapid breakdown of aquatic macrophytes in the New River suggests that organic matter from this source may constitute a significant pulse in the annual energy dynamics of the river.