In order to evaluate thermodynamic speciation calculations inherent in biotic ligand models, the speciation of dissolved Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn in aquatic systems influenced by historical mining activities is examined using equilibrium computer models and the diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) technique. Several metal/organic-matter complexation models, including WHAM VI, NICA-Donnan, and Stockholm Humic model (SHM), are used in combination with inorganic speciation models to calculate the thermodynamic speciation of dissolved metals and concentrations of metal associated with biotic ligands (e.g., fish gills). Maximum dynamic metal concentrations, determined from total dissolved metal concentrations and thermodynamic speciation calculations, are compared with labile metal concentrations measured by DGT to assess which metal/organic-matter complexation model best describes metal speciation and, thereby, biotic ligand speciation, in the studied systems. Results indicate that the choice of model that defines metal/organic-matter interactions does not affect calculated concentrations of Cd and Zn associated with biotic ligands for geochemical conditions in the study area, whereas concentrations of Cu and Pb associated with biotic ligands depend on whether the speciation calculations use WHAM VI, NICA-Donnan, or SHM. Agreement between labile metal concentrations and dynamic metal concentrations occurs when WHAM VI is used to calculate Cu speciation and SHM is used to calculate Pb speciation. Additional work in systems that contain wide ranges in concentrations of multiple metals should incorporate analytical speciation methods, such as DGT, to constrain the speciation component of biotic ligand models. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd.