This study evaluated the effects of a saxitoxin-producer strain (T3) of the cyanobacteria species Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii on the swimming movements of three cladoceran species (Daphnia gessneri, D. pulex, and Moina micrura). Acute toxicity bioassays were designed to access the effects of T3 strain, of a nonsaxitoxin producer strain (NPLP-1) of the same species and of a raw water sample from Funil reservoir (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), that contained this and other cyanobacteria. In the acute bioassays, animals were exposed to C. raciborskii filaments or Funil water for 24–48 h and then transferred to food suspensions without cyanobacterial filaments for a further 48 h. During the exposure time to T3 strain filaments there was a decrease in the number of swimming individuals, with animals showing progressive immobilization. The same effect was observed with Funil water sample. Animals stayed alive on the bottom of the test tube and recovered swimming movements when transferred to food suspensions without toxic cells. This effect was not observed with the strain NPLP-1. The cladoceran D. pulex showed to be extremely sensitive to T3 strain and to Funil water containing C. raciborskii filaments, showing complete paralysis after 24-h exposure to T3 cell densities of 103 and 104 cells mL−1, and after 24-h exposure to only 10% of raw water. However, D. gessneri was not sensitive to both T3 and to Funil water, whereas M. micrura was intermediate in sensitivity. This is the first report on the effects of cyanobacterial saxitoxins on movements of freshwater cladocerans, showing also difference in sensitivity among closely related Daphnia species. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol, 2008.