The distribution patterns of major and trace elements in sediment cores from the Arctic Ocean, specifically the Yermak Plateau and the Nansen Basin, were evaluated as climate and environmental proxy records of the last 350 ka. The sediments are carbonate-poor clay, silty clay, and clayey silt, with occasional sand layers. They are very poor in biogenic components, and are dominated by quartz, feldspars, clay minerals, and Fe-Ti oxides. Of the many elements analyzed, the profiles of the sum of Al+Fe+Mg+Ti, Ba, Zr, and La show changes during the transition from glacial into interglacial conditions. The Eemian and Holocene transitions display particularly prominent trends. Ba is recognized as a potential tracer of relative stratigraphy and geochronological correlation in Arctic sediments. The dominant control on variation in major-element and trace-element chemistry in these cores is shifts in the sources and accumulation rates of the detrital components. Diagenetic effects are evident in the soluble and/or redox-sensitive elements such as Fe, Mn, K, P, Sr, Zn, and Cu, and dissolution of biogenic siliceous components.