Sediments are evaluated for toxicity by measuring mortality in a single cohort of amphipods in either acute (10-d) or chronic (28-d) bioassays. This investigation differed from conventional bioassays in four ways: Sublethal effects (fecundity) were estimated; the testing period was 60+ d; two successive generations were examined; and Elasmopus laevis Smith, 1873, amphipods were employed. Four test sediments were created between 58 and 424 μg/g of lead using the 30-μg/g whole-sediment as the control. Bioaccumulated lead at 60 d varied as a linear function of lead concentration in the sediments. Fecundity, as estimated by offspring-per-chamber and/or percent reproductive success, was reduced as sediment lead concentrations increased and reproduction was delayed compared with the control. The reduction in offspring production per test chamber varied significantly as an inverse function of lead sediment concentration, best described by a curvilinear exponential equation. It was concluded that E. laevis exposed to 118 μg/g and higher could not maintain a population as large as that in the control. Although the current sediment quality guideline for lead stipulates that adverse biological effects likely will occur above 218 μg/g, this study revealed a statistically significant negative reproductive response at 118 μg/g lead, and suggests that the current regulatory guideline for lead, based on lethality, should be reconsidered. © 2007 SETAC.