We report on OSL dose distributions derived from small-aliquot and single grains of quartz in young fluvial sediments sampled from the Penner River basin, South India. The single-grain dose distributions suggest that 13 out of 19 samples were well bleached. In many well-bleached samples, there was an underestimation in the single-aliquot dose estimates as compared to those from the single grain-the difference between average dose estimates determined by the two methods ranged from similar to 1% to 31%. Such a dose underestimation was not detectable in poorly bleached samples. Various possible reasons for the discrepancy between single-grain and small-aliquot dose estimates are discussed. Although there is no satisfactory explanation for this discrepancy, we speculate that the difference in the stimulation wavelengths, 470 +/- 130 nm in the case of single-aliquot and 532 nm in the case of single grains, could perhaps be one of the reasons; this may occur because the stimulation wavelength affects the proportion of the medium and slow components in the initial signal. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.