The influence of background polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) residues in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) on the susceptibility of the fish to nine chemicals routinely or occasionally used in fishery operations was evaluated. Rainbow trout fry were divided into three groups: one was exposed to 0.01 ppb and another to 0.1 ppb of the PCB Aroclor (R) 1254; the third (control) group was unexposed. After 30 days of exposure, whole body residues were 0.28 and 2.31 ppm for fish exposed to 0.01 and 0.1 ppb, respectively; control fish had residue concentrations of 0.04 ppm. Acute toxicity tests showed that both groups of exposed fish were more sensitive to rotenone and 2,4-D. Exposure did not significantly affect sensitivity to 2-[digeranylamino]-ethanol (GD-174), 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM), nifurpirinol (Furanace), tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222), or copper sulfate. Fishery managers should be aware that sensitivity of fish to control chemicals may be altered by the presence of contaminants in the water or residues of contaminants in the fish.