Seed mussels (Mytilus edulis) were exposed to a range of pesticides and PCBs, several of which caused a reduction in byssal attachment at higher concentrations. In queen scallops (Chlamys opercularis) byssus formation was similarly affected although this species was more sensitive than M. edulis. The sensitivity of mussels was greater at higher temperatures and decreased with increase in size. Of the compounds tested Endosulfan (organochlorine) was the most toxic, causing a 50% reduction in byssal attachment after 24 h at 0•45 mg/l. Trichlorphon (organophosphate) was the least toxic and did not affect byssal attachment at concentrations up to 30 mg/l. The probable cause of decreased byssal attachment is a reduction in pedal activity, although it is possible that direct interference with the synthesis or combination of byssus components may be involved. It is suggested that byssogenesis tests offer a rapid and convenient technique for the routine screening of potential marine pollutants.