The objectives of this paper are to provide a regional description of the shrinkage parameters of Neogene clays and glacial tills from central Poland; and to present the effects of hydrocarbon contamination on the shrinkage behaviour of soils. Forty samples containing from 19 to 90% clay-size particles were tested. The comparison of the three methods applied has indicated that the shrinkage limit values obtained by the BS 1377-2 method provide a greater margin of safety when used in the classification of expansive soils and yield the best matching in the analysis of the variability of the shrinkage limit in relation to other soil index parameters. A good correlation was found between the shrinkability index and the consistency index, which leads to a new classification of soils. The shrinkage tests of clean and diesel oil-contaminated samples revealed that contamination has a significant and irregular effect on the values of shrinkage parameters. For low degree of contamination the shrinkage limit of both soils had the lowest values and the volumetric shrinkage was maximum, and then with increasing ON content the shrinkage limit values tend to increase, while the volumetric shrinkage decreased.