Accumulation of 14C-labeled polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene, and benzo(a)pyrene and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners PCB 31 and PCB 105 with a log octanol/water partition coefficient (Kow) range from 3.37 to 6.5 was investigated in eggs and larvae of zebra fish (Brachydanio rerio), and in larvae of cod (Gadus morhua), herring (Clupea harengus), and turbot (Scophthalmus maximus). Significant differences in the uptake and elimination rate constants between eggs and larvae of zebra fish were seen. The low rate of uptake and the lower elimination rate of eggs did, however, lead to bioconcentration factors (BCFs) comparable to those for larvae. As biotransformation of xenobiotics in embryonic and larval stages was indicated to be insignificant compared to juvenile/adult stages, body burdens of readily biotransformed chemicals may be higher in fish early life stages. Because weight and lipid content did not differ much between the investigated species, the main reason for the variability in BCFs between marine species (cold water species) and freshwater species (warm water species) was considered to be caused by differences in exposure temperatures that affect the degree of biotransformation. Due to the smaller size of larvae and thus an increased total surface of the membranes per unit fish weight, steady-state conditions were reached at a faster rate in early life stages than in juvenile/adult life stages. The lipid-normalized bioconcentration factors (BCFL) were linearly related to Kow, but BCFL was, in general, higher than Kow, indicating that octanol is not a suitable surrogate for fish lipids. Differences in bioconcentration kinetics between larvae and juvenile/adult life stages are considered to be the main reason for the higher sensitivity, with respect to external effect concentrations, generally obtained for early life stages of fish.