Water is a valued natural resource for the existence of all living organisms. Management of the quality of this precious resource is, therefore, of special importance. In this study river water samples were collected and analysed for physicochemical and bacteriological evaluation of pollution in the Unity Road stream segment of Asa River in Ilorin, Nigeria. Juvenile samples of Clarias gariepinus
fish were also collected from the experimental Asa River and from the control Asa Dam water and were analysed for comparative histological investigations and bacterial density in the liver and intestine in order to evaluate the impact of pollution on the aquatic biota. The water pH was found to range from 6.32 to 6.43 with a mean temperature range of 24.3 to 25.8 °C. Other physicochemical parameters monitored including total suspended solids, total dissolved solids, biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand values exceeded the recommended level for surface water quality. Results of bacteriological analyses including total heterotrophic count, total coliform and thermotolerant coliform counts revealed a high level of faecal pollution of the river. Histological investigations revealed no significant alterations in tissue structure, but a notable comparative distinction of higher bacterial density in the intestine and liver tissues of Clarias gariepinus
from Asa River than in those collected from the control. It was inferred that the downstream Asa River is polluted and its aquatic biota is bacteriologically contaminated and unsafe for human and animal consumption.