The implementation of strict environmental quality standards for polar organic priority pollutants poses a challenge for monitoring programs. The polar organic chemical integrative sampler (POCIS) may help to address the challenge of measuring low and fluctuating trace concentrations of such organic contaminants, offering significant advantages over traditional sampling. In the present review, the authors evaluate POCIS calibration methods and factors affecting sampling rates together with reported environmental applications. Over 300 compounds have been shown to accumulate in POCIS, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and industrial chemicals. Polar organic chemical integrative sampler extracts have been used for both chemical and biological analyses. Several different calibration methods have been described, which makes it difficult to directly compare sampling rates. In addition, despite the fact that some attempts to correlate sampling rates with the properties of target compounds such as log KOW have been met with varying success, an overall model that can predict uptake is lacking. Furthermore, temperature, water flow rates, salinity, pH, and fouling have all been shown to affect uptake; however, there is currently no robust method available for adjusting for these differences. Overall, POCIS has been applied to a wide range of sampling environments and scenarios and has been proven to be a useful screening tool. However, based on the existing literature, a more mechanistic approach is required to increase understanding and thus improve the quantitative nature of the measurements. © 2012 SETAC.