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D/H ratios of sedimentary leaf waxes can provide useful information about past climate change. However, factors controlling delta D values of higher plant leaf waxes (delta D-wax) are poorly understood. Here we show that delta D-wax values are negatively correlated with delta C-13 values of leaf waxes (delta C-13(wax)), based on a study of 35 leaf samples of 11 tree species around Blood Pond, Massachusetts (USA). Our data suggest that plant water use efficiency exerts an important control on the delta D-wax variation among tree species. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.