The key findings to emerge from the successful Direct Toxicity Assessment Demonstration Programme are reviewed. At present, whole sample toxicity tests can identify and help control releases of complex mixtures that are likely to cause short-term toxic effects. Protection of aquatic organisms from the many hazardous chemicals that enter the environment, usually as complex mixtures, will require the introduction of new and improved techniques that are affordable and provide rapid turnaround of information. A number of bioassays were rigorously tested during the DTA programme. Further developments are suggested and other methods, including biosensors, biomarkers, and biological survey are briefly reviewed.