Chemical methods to predict the bioavailable fraction of organic contaminants are usually validated in the literature by comparison with established bioassays. A soil spiked with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was aged over six months and subjected to butanol, cyclodextrin and tenax extractions as well as an exhaustive extraction to determine total PAH concentrations at several time points. Earthworm (Eisenia fetida) and rye grass root (Lolium multiflorum) accumulation bioassays were conducted in parallel. Butanol extractions gave the best relationship with earthworm accumulation (r2 ≤ 0.54, p ≤ 0.01); cyclodextrin, butanol and acetone–hexane extractions all gave good predictions of accumulation in rye grass roots (r2 ≤ 0.86, p ≤ 0.01). However, the profile of the PAHs extracted by the different chemical methods was significantly different (p < 0.01) to that accumulated in the organisms. Biota accumulated a higher proportion of the heavier 4-ringed PAHs. It is concluded that bioaccumulation is a complex process that cannot be predicted by measuring the bioavailable fraction alone.\ud \ud The ability of chemical methods to predict PAH accumulation in Eisenia fetida and Lolium multiflorum was hindered by the varied metabolic fate of the different PAHs within the organisms
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