Uptake of persistent lipophilic toxicants in fish occurs via the food and by transfer across the body surface, notably the gills. Flux rates of most lipid soluble toxicants across the gills is rapid and the animal must eat at very high rates for feeding to have a significant effect on toxicant concentration in the body. The relative rates of uptake via feeding and transfer across the gills are analyzed from a theoretical and experimental standpoint. At the low feeding rates typical of fish, the uptake of toxicants in the food can be ignored when estimating toxicant body concentration. Copyright © 1998 Published by Elsevier Ltd.