One-half of Little Rock Lake, a small seepage lake in north-central Wisconsin, was gradually acidified by additions of sulfuric acid between August 1983 and November 1990. The ambient pH (6.1) of the lake was reduced at successive 2-year intervals to pH 5.6, 5.1, and 4.7. Responses of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides, rock bass Ambloplites rupestris, black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus, and yellow perch Perca flavescens populations to the pH reductions were recorded and compared to the responses of these species during in situ bioassays and laboratory toxicity tests on embryos and larvae. Laboratory results obtained for largemouth bass and rock bass underestimated, black crappie results overestimated, and yellow perch results were similar to effects observed in field studies. In situ bioassays predicted field responses better than did laboratory toxicity tests. Laboratory results showed that monomeric Al concentrations of approximately 50 microgram/l, which were comparable to Al concentrations in the acidified half of the lake, altered low-pH toxicity. Reduced recruitment was observed in field populations at higher pH than that at which adult mortality was observed. The results indicate that laboratory toxicity tests with early life stages may not accurately predict field population responses and that results from laboratory tests should be field-validated whenever possible.