Toxicological and chemical studies were performed with a silty and a sandy marine sediment spiked with 2,6-dinitrotoluene (2,6-DNT), 2,4,6-trinitrophenylmethylnitramine (tetryl), or 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (picric acid). Whole sediment toxicity was analyzed by the 10-day survival test with the amphipod Ampelisca abdita, and porewater toxicity tests assessed macro-algae (Ulva fasciata) zoospore germination and germling growth, sea urchin (Arbacia punctulata) embryological development, and polychaete (Dinophilus gyrociliatus) survival and reproduction. Whole sediments spiked with 2,6-DNT were not toxic to amphipods. The fine-grained sediment spiked with tetryl was also not acutely toxic. The tetryl and picric acid LC50 values in the sandy sediment were 3.24 and 144 mg/kg dry weight, respectively. The fine-grained sediment spiked with picric acid generated a U-shaped concentration-response curve in the amphipod test, with increased survival both in the lowest and highest concentration. Grain-size distribution and organic carbon content strongly influenced the behavior of ordnance compounds in spiked sediments. Very low concentrations were measured in some of the treatments and irreversible binding and biodegradation are suggested as the processes responsible for the low measurements. Porewater toxicity varied with its sedimentary origin and with ordnance compound. The sea urchin embryological development test tended to be the least sensitive. Tetryl was the most toxic chemical in all porewater tests, and picric acid the least toxic. Samples spiked with 2,6-DNT contained a degradation product identified as 2-methyl-3-nitroaniline (also known as 2-amino-6-nitrotoluene), and unidentified peaks, possibly degradation products, were also seen in some of the picric acid- and tetryl-spiked samples. Degradation products may have played a role in observed toxicity. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.