The present study investigated whether fluctuating asymmetry can serve as a useful biomarker of environmental stress in the eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). Fluctuating asymmetry was measured in sexually mature females sampled from two Florida, USA, coastal streams: The Fenholloway River, which is dominated by effluent from a paper mill, and Spring Creek, a tributary to the Fenholloway River (Taylor County, FL, USA) that does not receive paper mill effluent. Nine morphometric (lengths of the A and B scales, fifth pectoral fin ray, supraorbital canal, and preorbital canal and the sixth gill raker on the first brachial arch; orbit diameter; distance from the dorsal-ventral midpoint of the eye socket to the base of the pectoral fin; and distance from the postorbital canal to the operculum) and five meristic traits (numbers of scales in the lateral line, radii on the A and B scales, pectoral fin rays, and gill rakers on the first brachial arch) were included. For each of the three indexes of fluctuating asymmetry that were used, the majority of the traits showed a higher level of fluctuating asymmetry in fish from the Fenholloway River than in fish from Spring Creek. For two of the indexes, the difference was significant. Comparisons of mean values for fluctuating asymmetry (over all traits) for each fish and the means of a composite index of asymmetry both indicated that fish from the Fenholloway River had significantly greater overall fluctuating asymmetry than those from Spring Creek. Results of the present study are consistent with the hypothesis that environmental stress increased the level of fluctuating asymmetry in fish from the Fenholloway River. Thus, fluctuating asymmetry appears to be a useful biomarker for stress-induced developmental instability in the eastern mosquitofish. © 2006 SETAC.