A central feature of the European Water Framework Directive are the reference conditions. The ecological quality status is determined by calculating the distance between the present situation and the reference conditions. To describe reference conditions the natural variation of biota in pristine water bodies should be measured. Because pristine water bodies are not present in the Netherlands anymore, water bodies (springs, streams, rivers and oxbow lakes) in central Poland were investigated. Macrophytes and macroinvertebrates were sampled and environmental variables were measured. The water bodies appeared to have a high biodiversity and a good ecological quality. They contain a high number of rare macroinvertebrate species. There are only few species that can not occur in the Netherlands, but their abundances were low. The Polish water bodies are suitable to describe reference conditions for similar Dutch water types. The data resulting from this project can be used to update the descriptions of reference conditions in the `Handboek Natuurdoeltypen¿or to develop the descriptions for the Water Framework Directive types.