Despite the extensive use of aquatic insects to evaluate freshwater ecosystem health, little is known about the underlying factors that result in sensitivity differences between taxa. Organismal characteristics (respiratory strategy and body size) were used to explore the rates of [3H]H2O and [14)C]chlorpyrifos accumulation in aquatic insects. Ten aquatic insect taxa, including ephemeropteran, trichopteran, dipteran, hemipteran, and coleopteran species, were exposed to [14C]chlorpyrifos (240 ng??L-1) and [3H]H2O for up to 12 h. Because exchange epithelial surfaces on the)integument are permeable to water, [3H]H2O was used as a quantitative surrogate for exposed cellular surface area.) [14C]Chlorpyrifos uptake rates were highly correlated with water permeability in all 10 taxa tested and largely covaried with body size and respiratory strategy. Rates were highest among smaller organisms on a per-weight basis and in taxa with relatively large external cellular surfaces such as gills. Air-breathing taxa were significantly less permeable to both [3)HH20 and [14C)C]chlorpyrifos. A method for labeling exposed epithelial surfaces with a fluorescent dye was developed. This technique allowed discrimination between exchange epithelium and barrier tissue on the integument. Fluorescent dye distributions on the body surface provided a rapid method for estimating exposed epithelium consistent with [3H]H2O and [14)C]chlorpyrifos accumulation.