We evaluated the effects of two organochlorinated environmental contaminants, Endosulfan and Aroclor 1254 on peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism and thyroid hormone plasma levels in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Tilapia were exposed through diet to 0.1 and 0.5 microg g(-1) of Endosulfan and 0.5 microg g(-1) of Aroclor 1254 for 21 and 35 days. Decreased plasma T4 and rT3 levels were observed in tilapia exposed to the lower dose of Endosulfan, while treatment with a higher dose and Aroclor 1254 produced no changes. Plasma T3 levels were not affected by these compounds. Hepatic type I deiodinase (D1) activity was depressed by a lower dose of Endosulfan and hepatic type III (D3) activity was increased following 35 days of exposure to the lower dose of Endosulfan and following 21 and 35 days of exposure to Aroclor 1254; while type II (D2) remained unchanged in liver as well as in all other organs analysed. Apart from hepatic D3 activity, Endosulfan and Aroclor 1254 also increased D3 activity in gill, but not in other tested organs. It is concluded that dietary exposure of tilapia to Endosulfan or Aroclor 1254 can lead to changes in circulating thyroid hormone levels and/or in peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism. The changes in hormone metabolism differ between tissues, eventually reflecting tissue-specific differences in adaptation.