Sediment toxicity to the amphipod Eohaustorius estuarius, sediment contamination, and the abundance of amphipods were examined along a contamination gradient in the Lauritzen Channel and adjacent parts of Richmond Harbor, California. Dieldrin and DDT were formulated and ground at this site from 1945 to 1966. Sediment contamination by both dieldrin and the sum of DDT and its metabolites (DDT's) was positively correlated with sediment toxicity and negatively correlated with the abundance of amphipods excluding Grandidierella japonica. The maximum dieldrin and DDT's concentrations in toxic units were 0.018 and 9.43, respectively, indicating that DDT's was the dominant ecotoxicological factor. Concentrations of PAHs, PCBs, and metals were not sufficient to cause appreciable toxicity, except at one PAH-contaminated station. Relations between DDT's, sediment toxicity, and amphipod abundance are similar at three DDT's-contaminated sites. The 10-d LC50 for DDT's in field-collected sediment was 2,500 micrograms/gram organic carbon (OC) for Eohaustorius estuarius in the study, 1,040 micrograms/gram OC for Rhepoxynius abronius exposed to Palos Verdes Shelf, California, sediment, and 2,580 micrograms/gram OC for Hyalella azteca exposed to sediment from a freshwater stream system near Huntsville, Alabama. The threshold for 10-d sediment toxicity occurred at about 300 micrograms DDT's/gram OC. The abundance of amphipods (except Grandidierella japonica) was reduced at DDT's concentrations >100 micrograms/gram OC. Correlations between toxicity, contamination, and biology indicate that acute sediment toxicity to Eohaustorius estuarius, Rhopoxynius abronius, or Hyalella azteca in lab tests provides reliable evidence of biologically adverse sediment contamination in the field.