Partial and complete life-cycle toxicity tests with fish, involving all developmental stages, have been used extensively in the establishment of water-quality criteria for aquatic life. During extended chronic exposures of fish to selected toxicants, certain developmental stages have frequently shown a greater sensitivity than others. In 56 life-cycle toxicity tests completed during the last decade with 34 organic and inorganic chemicals and four species of fish, the embryo-larval and early juvenile life stages were the most, or among the most, sensitive. Tests with these stages can be used to estimate the maximum acceptable toxicant concentration (MATC) within a factor of two in most cases. Therefore, toxicity tests with these early life stages of fish should be useful in establishing water-quality criteria and in screening large numbers of chemicals.