macroinvertebrate communities are one of the most used groups in assessments of water quality, since they respond directly to the level of contamination of aquatic ecosystems. the main objective of this study was the assessment of the water quality of the sinos river basin (rio grande do sul state, brazil) through biotic indices based on the macroinvertebrate community ("family biotic index - fbi", and "biological monitoring working party score system - bmwp"). three lower order streams (2nd order) were selected in each one of three main regions of the basin. in each stream, the samplings were performed in three reaches (upper, middle, and lower), totalling 27 reaches. two samplings were carried in each reach over one year (winter and summer). a total of 6,847 macroinvertebrates distributed among 54 families were sampled. the streams from the upper region were of better water quality than the lower region. the water quality did not change between the upper, middle and lower reaches of the streams. however, the upper reaches of the streams were of better water quality in all the regions of the basin. the water quality of the streams did not vary between the summer and the winter. this result demonstrated that water quality may be analysed in both studied seasons (summer and winter) using biotic indices. the analysis of the results allows us to conclude that the biotic indices used reflected the changes related to the water quality along the longitudinal gradient of the basin. thus, aquatic macroinvertebrates were important bioindicators of the water and environmental quality of the streams of the sinos river basin.