Morphological changes in hepatocytes of mature brown trout (Salmo trutta Linnaeus) and juvenile rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri Richardson), accompanying chronic exposures to copper and zinc, were examined by transmission electron microscopy. At a concentration of copper not inhibitory to the final stages of gonadal development or spawning of brown trout, structural alterations included contraction of mitochondria and a tendency for nuclei to be slightly enlarged. Concentrations of copper or zinc lethal to a small fraction (10% and 4%, respectively) of a population of juvenile rainbow trout exposed for 42 d during larval and early juvenile development caused hepatocyte changes in survivors indicative of a reduction in ability to maintain intracellular water and cation balance and possible intranuclear metal sequestering. Specific structural alterations included increased vesiculation of rough endoplasmic reticulum, an increase in the abundance of electron-dense particles in the nucleus, increases in the numbers of multilaminar and globular inclusions, pooling of glycogen, increased autophagocytic activity and an increase in the number of necrotic cells. At advanced stages of toxicosis (concentrations of copper or zinc lethal to approximately 50% of the juveniles exposed for 42 d during development), loss in integrity of mitochondrial membranes, rupturing of plasma and nuclear membranes, separation of granular and fibrillar nuclear components, fragmentation of endoplasmic reticulum, and extensive autophagic vacuolization were significant features of hepatocytes of surviving juvenile rainbow trout. ?? 1983.