The results of four toxicity bioassays of selected anionic and nonionic surface active agents were presented. Three widely used anionic surfactants that belong to alkyl sulphates (AS), alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) and alkylpolyoxyethylene sulphates (AES) as well as nonionic surfactants: polyoxyethylene alkyl ethers (AE) and polyoxylethylene alkylphenyl ethers (APE) were tested. Three different toxicity assays to aquatic organisms: Physa acuta Draparnaud, Artemia salina and Raphidocelis subcapitata were applied. Additionally, the genotoxicity test with Bacillus subtilis M45 Rec- and H17 Rec+ strains was performed. The obtained results showed that none of the surfactants studied was genotoxic at the concentration 1000 mg l-1. On the basis of toxicity tests to aquatic organisms all tested anionic surfactants were harmful (LC50 between 10 and 100 mg l-1), whereas nonionic ones were toxic (LC50 between 1 and 10 mg l-1) or even highly toxic (LC50 below 1 mg l-1). Moreover, the bigger was the molecular weight of the tested compound, the higher toxicity was observed.