The oligochaete, Lumbriculus variegatus, has several characteristics that make it desirable as a prey organism for conducting dietary exposure studies with fish. We conducted 21- and 30-d experiments with young fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), respectively, to determine whether a diet consisting solely of L. variegatus would support normal growth and to compare performance with standard diets (Artemia nauplii, frozen brine shrimp, or trout chow). All diets were readily accepted, and fish survived and grew well. Food conversion in both fathead minnows and rainbow trout was as high as or higher for the oligochaete diet compared with others, although this comparison is influenced by differences in ration, ingestion rate, or both. The oligochaete diet had gross nutritional analysis similar to the other diets, and meets fish nutrition guidelines for protein and essential amino acids. Methodologies and practical considerations for successfully using oligochaetes as an experimental diet are discussed. Considering their ready acceptance by fish, their apparent nutritional sufficiency, the ease of culturing large numbers, and the ease with which they can be loaded with exogenous chemicals, we believe that L. variegatus represents an excellent choice of exposure vector for exposing fish to toxicants via the diet. ?? 2006 SETAC.