Next to imposing direct lethal effects, pollutants may also indirectly impose mortality by making prey organisms more vulnerable to predation. We report that four water boatmen species differed strongly in direct endosulfan-imposed mortality, and only the species that suffered highest mortality, Sigara iactans, also showed a reduction in escape swimming speed. While head AChE activity was inhibited in all four species, body ChE was only inhibited in S. iactans where it covaried with escape swimming speed, indicating a mechanistic link between body ChE and swimming speed. Our study underscores the need for risk assessment to consider sublethal pollutant effects, which may considerably affect survival rates under natural conditions, also when testing concentrations of a pesticide that cause direct mortality. Such sublethal effects may generate discrepancies between laboratory and field studies and should be considered when designing safety factors for toxicants where the risk assessment is solely based on LC50 values. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.