Charge transfer efficiency limits the performance of a CCD line scan-based imaging system. Even though the degradation of the image quality due to the inefficiency in the charge transfer is often neglected in practical work it may have considerable effect on the system performance in applications where high resolution and uniform image quality are needed. In this paper the relationship between the charge transfer efficiency and the image quality in paper web inspection and, especially, in streak detection is discussed. A simple method for the estimation of the charge transfer efficiency is proposed. The method is based on the imaging of a square wave test pattern. The degradation of the image quality due to the charge transfer is analysed both theoretically and with practical imaging experiments. The results show clearly the variation in the system performance along the CCD scan. This is emphasised in the case of small and low-contrast surface defects on the web.