White sucker (Catostomus commersoni) collected from a site receiving primary-treated bleached kraft mill effluent (BKME) were older and had a higher condition factor than fish at a reference site and grew more slowly than fish from three other areas of Lake Superior. The BKME-exposed fish also exhibited an increased age to maturity, smaller gonads, lower fecundity with age, an absence of secondary sex characteristics in males, and females failed to show an increase in egg size with age. Lower serum estradiol and testosterone concentrations and greater hepatic mixed-function oxidase (MFO) activity, as measured by conversion of diphenyloxazole and benzo[ajpyrene were also observed in the BKME-exposed fish. The level of MFO activity varied with season; differences could not be detected between sites during the spring spawning period, but were markedly elevated (up to ninefold) at the BKME site during the summer. The poorer performance of fish at the BKME site appears to be related to decreased levels of serum steroids and consequent abnormalities in reproductive development and carbohydrate metabolism, although the relationship of the changes in steroid levels with the increased hepatic enzyme activity remains to be established.