We evaluated the habitat use and movements of 50 adult bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and 50 silver carp H. molitrix by means of ultrasonic telemetry during spring–summer 2004 and 2005 to gain insight into the conditions that facilitate their establishment, persistence, and dispersal in the lower Illinois River (river kilometer 0–130). Movement and habitat use were monitored with stationary receivers and boat-mounted tracking. The relative availability of four macrohabitat categories (main channel, island side channel, channel border, and connected backwater) was quantified to determine selection; discriminant function analysis was used to evaluate changes in physical characteristics within each category. A flood pulse occurred in spring through early summer of 2004 but not 2005. Movement rates (km/week) of both species were positively correlated with flow but not with temperature. Including data from stationary receivers greatly increased estimates of daily movement. During low summer flow, both species typically selected channel borders and avoided the main channel and backwaters. Both species rarely occupied depths over 4 m, regardless of abiotic conditions. Flood pulses appear to trigger dispersal, while habitat use is only specific during low summer flow. Thus, movement prevention efforts (e.g., dispersal barriers) will require particular vigilance during late-winter or spring flooding, and controlled removal (e.g., harvest) should be directed toward selected habitats during summer.