Abstract The production of toxic microcystins by cyanobacteria is an important safety issue in terms of ecological food chains and drinking water supplies. Studies were carried out to demonstrate the applicability of solid phase adsorption toxin tracking (SPATT) to the monitoring of microcystins in fresh water. Work focused on the distribution of the intra- and extra-cellular toxins MC-LR and [Dha7] MC-LR produced by Microcystis aeruginosa (FACHB 905). The dynamic adsorption and desorption behavior of both toxins on aromatic resins HP20 and SP700 was examined, and the use of SPATT bags for monitoring microcystins in cyanobacterial cultures is discussed. It was shown that intracellular MC-LR and [Dha7] MC-LR are released continuously during batch incubation. The adsorption capacity of the SP700 resin was higher than that of the HP20 resin, while the opposite was true for desorption efficiency. The highest desorption efficiency of HP20 was 91.5±4.6% and 89.0±7.1% for MC-LR and [Dha7] MC-LR, respectively; accordingly, that of SP700 was 78.1±4.1% and 72.3±2.1%, respectively. Taking both adsorption and desorption behavior into consideration, HP20 is recommended as an adsorbent for SPATT monitoring of microcystins in freshwater bodies.