Toxic effects on macroalgae have been compiled. Eighty-two articles have been found in literature during 1959-2000. A total of 120 substances were investigated using 65 different macroalgae species. About one-third of the tested compounds were organic substances (33%), another third metal-organic substances (35%), and the last third were oils (14%), metals (8%), detergents (7.5%) and other inorganic chemicals (2.5%). Half of the substances were only tested once on a single species. Likewise, toxicity data has only been reported for one chemical tested on a single occasion for about half of the 65 species. Thus little is known about the toxic effects on marine macroalgae. The objectives of the previous studies undertaken varied and therefore the toxicity data was presented in numerous ways, e.g. using different exposure times, temperature, light intensity, light regime, salinity, and nutrients, which makes a direct comparison of the data difficult. This review also shows that many stages in the lifecycle of macroalgae are often more sensitive to toxic substances than other aquatic organisms. Consequently, tests using macroalgae may discover toxicity earlier, which would in turn also protect the fauna. If toxic compounds have a negative affect on the distribution and growth of structurally and functionally dominating macroalgae, there may indirectly be a large and harmful influence on the whole marine coastal ecosystem. For this reason tests on macroalgae should be included in control programs along the coasts.