Freshwater sediments and water were spiked with cadmium (Cd) in the laboratory, and toxicity tests were conducted with the cladoceran Daphnia magna and the amphipod Hyalella azteca to determine if Cd in the sediment would cause increased toxicity. The 48-h LC50 values for Daphnia in tests without sediment were 36, 33, 24, and 40 micrograms/L total Cd. Calculated free ion (Cd2+)LC50 values for the same tests were 28,25,18 and 31 micrograms/L. LC50 values (48-h) determined for total Cd(uncentrifuged water sample) in the sediment-containing beakers were 252, 69, and 122 micrograms/L for Daphnia. LC50 values for dissolved Cd(centrifuged 10,000 rpm) in the sediment-containing beakers were 61, 27 and 100 micrograms/L for Daphnia. Higher total Cd LC50 values indicate that Cd adsorbed to soluble organic material was not biologically available. No significant mortality of Daphnia or Hyalella occurred in the flow-through tests in which sediment contained the same levels of Cd as in the static tests. Mortality was similar in beakers with and without Cd-spiked sediment, indicating that Cd in the sediment and adsorbed to organic materials was not available to cause increased mortality.