A 20.5-month study was undertaken to determine detrital processing of the halophytes Spartina anglica, Elytrigia pungens, and Halimione portulacoides in three different habitats of an estuarine salt marsh in the South-West Netherlands. Decomposition was measured using litter-bags of three different mesh sizes to partition the effects of different faunal groups on decomposition. From April 1980 through October 1981 litter-bags were sampled regulary from a creek, the upper marsh, and from a plant-debris belt on the higher marsh. Dry weights and nutritive values were measured and animals were counted. Mainly rates of loss are reported here. Zonal differences were significant. At first, decomposition in the creek was most rapid. After two months the processes in the creek slowed down because of the trapping of silt by the bags, which probably simulated the natural course of the decomposition process in the water. Decomposition on the marsh followed the most regular pattern, while in the plant-debris belt the pattern was very irregular. Population dynamics of microfaunal organisms supported these findings. In the plant-debris belts loss rates seem to be higher than on the marsh, because of the influence of detritivorous macrofaunal organisms. The loss rates of the three plant species differed significantly. Halimione decomposed fastest, especially in the beginning, and in the plant-debris habitat. On the upper marsh and in the plant-debris belt the loss rates of Spartina seem to be a little higher than those of Elytrigia.