The individual effect of different major cations(Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, and H+) on the acute toxicity of zinc to the waterflea Daphnia magna was investigated. The 48-h median effective concentration (EC50) in the baseline test medium (i.e., a standard medium with very low ion concentrations) was about 6 μM (Zn2+). An increase of Ca2+ (from 0.25 mM to 3 mM), Mg2+ (from 0.25 mM to 2 mM), and Na+ activity (from 0.077 mM to 13 mM) reduced zinc toxicity by a factor of 6.3, 2.1, and 3.1, respectively. No further toxicity reduction was observed when Ca2+ and Mg2+ activities exceeded 3.0 and 2.0 mM, respectively. Both K+ and H+ did not significantly alter zinc toxicity (expressed as Zn2+ activity). From these data, conditional stability constants for Ca2+ (log K = 3.24), Mg2+ (log K = 2.97), Na2+ (log K = 2.16), and Zn2+ (log K = 5.31) were derived and incorporated into a biotic ligand model (BLM) predicting acute zinc toxicity to D. magna in surface waters with different water quality characteristics. Validation of the developed BLM using 17 media with different pH, hardness, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) content resulted in a significant correlation coefficient (R2 = 0.76) between predicted and observed 48-h EC50. Eighty-eight percent of the predictions were within a factor of 1.3 of the observed 48-h EC50.