Metal toxicity is a function of the biology of the target organism and the chemical speciation of the metal. The toxicity of 11 metals was assessed with three cell-based bioassays based on marine organisms: the bacterium Photobacterium phosphoreum of the Microtox® bioassay, an environmental strain of P. phosphoreum, and photocytes isolated from the brittlestar Ophiopsila californica. Metal speciation was calculated for three commonly used media: NaCl-based Microtox® bioassay medium, artificial seawater glycerol, and artificial seawater. Decreased bioluminescence was considered a proxy for cell toxicity. In all three assays the elements Cd and Hg exhibited similar speciation as well as similar toxicity profiles. The element Cu was toxic in all three assays despite different metal speciation for the P. phosphoreum bioassay. The element Ag was toxic to both bacterial strains but not to photocytes despite a similar chemical speciation for all three assays. In general, the Microtox® bioassay was sensitive to all metals (except Pb), whereas the photocytes were the least sensitive to the metals. The heightened response of the Microtox® bioassay probably resulted from a combination of the limited complexing power of the medium and the greater sensitivity of the bacterial strain.