The bioavailability of chemicals to earthworms can be modified dramatically by soil physical/chemical characteristics, yet expressing exposure as total chemical concentrations does not address this problem. In order to understand the effects of modifying factors on bioavailability, one must measure and express chemical bioavailability to earthworms in a consistent, logical manner. This can be accomplished by direct biological measures of bioavailability (e.g., bioaccumulation, critical body residues), indirect biological measures of bioavailability (e.g., biomarkers, reproduction), or indirect chemical measures of bioavailability (e.g., chemical or solid-phase extracts of soil). If indirect chemical measures of bioavailability are to be used, they must be correlated with some biological response. Bioavailability can be incorporated into ecological risk assessment during risk analysis, primarily in the estimation of exposure. However, in order to be used in the site-specific ecological risk assessment of chemicals, effects concentrations must be developed from laboratory toxicity tests based on exposure estimates utilizing techniques that measure the bioavailable fraction of chemicals in soil, not total chemical concentrations. ?? 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.