Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) are two of the most widely used brominated flame retardants (BFRs). The biological toxicity effect of TBBPA and HBCD was studied by means of zebrafish embryo toxicity assays in combination with three biomarkers, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), lipid peroxidation, (LPO), and heat shock protein (Hsp70). The standard zebrafish embryo assay showed that high concentrations of TBBPA (≥0.75 mg/L) can cause lethality or malformation. For HBCD within the concentration range (0.002–10 mg/L), no endpoint was observed. Furthermore, SOD activities of zebrafish embryos exposed to TBBPA were increased with the increasing concentrations. SOD activities in the group treated by HBCD showed an increase followed by a decline. Regardless of TBBPA or HBCD, LPO were increased along with the increase of the concentration. The change pattern of Hsp70 levels was the same with LPO. All these results showed that TBBPA and HBCD could cause oxidative stress and Hsp70 overexpression, inducing acute toxicity to zebrafish embryo in a short-term exposure. The study also indicates that the zebrafish embryo assay in combination with the biomarkers is effective in aquatic environmental toxicology and risk assessment. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol, 2009.