- The protective effect of reactive sulfide against AgNO3 toxicity to Daphnia magna neonates was studied. Acute (48-h) toxicity tests were performed in the absence (<5 nM) and presence of low (approximately 25 nM) and high (approximately 250 nM) concentrations of zinc sulfide clusters under oxic conditions. In both the presence and the absence of sulfide, lower mean lethal concentration (LC50) values were observed when measured as opposed to nominal silver concentrations were used in calculations. This reflected the fact that measured total silver concentrations were lower than nominal concentrations due to losses of silver from solution observed during the experiment. High concentration (approximately 250 nM) of sulfide completely protected against toxicity up to the highest silver concentration tested (2 microg/L [19 nM]) with measured silver data. In the presence of environmentally realistic levels of sulfide (approximately 25 nM) in receiving waters, acute silver toxicity was reduced by about 5.5-fold. However, when filtered (0.45 microm) silver concentrations alone were considered, toxicity (48-h LC50) was similar in the absence (0.22 microg/L) and presence (0.28 microg/L) of sulfide. The difference between measured total and filtered silver was attributed to chemisorption of the metal sulfide onto the membrane filter and provides evidence that the toxic fraction of silver is that which is unbound to sulfide. Accumulation of silver was greater in daphnids exposed to silver in the presence of sulfide than in its absence, even though a toxic effect was not observed under these conditions. In this case, silver appears to be incorporated by daphnids rather than merely adsorbed on the surface. Our results point out the need to incorporate sulfide into the acute biotic ligand model and to assess its potentially large role in preventing chronic toxicity.