Acute toxicity tests were carried out on the marine amphipod Allorchestes compressa Dana using copper sulfate and some organocopper complexes. For copper sulfate, 96 h LC50 values of 0.11 and 0.5 mg Cu/liter were determined for the juveniles and the adults, respectively. Juveniles were about 4.5 times more sensitive to copper than adults Organocopper complexes were tested on adults only. The three water soluble ligands nitrotriacetic acid, 8-hydroxyquinoline-5-sulfoic acid and tannic acid ameliorated copper toxicity by decreasing the concentration of free ionic copper while lipid-soluble ligands such as oxine and potassium ethylxanthogenate increased copper toxicity, presumably as a result of the complexes diffusing through the cell membrane and participating in injurious reaction. The copper complex with 2,9-dimethyl-1,10-phenanthroline was the most toxic complex tested. It is suggested that the presence of these ligands in the receiving water should be taken into consideration when establishing water quality criteria. 19 references, 2 figures, 3 tables.