Daphnia magna is a key invertebrate in the freshwater environment and is used widely as a model in ecotoxicological measurements and risk assessment. Understanding the genomic responses of D. magna to chemical challenges will be of value to regulatory authorities worldwide. Here we exposed D. magna to the insecticide methomyl and the herbicide propanil to compare phenotypic effects with changes in mRNA expression levels. Both pesticides are found in drainage ditches and surface water bodies standing adjacent to crops. Methomyl, a carbamate insecticide widely used in agriculture, inhibits acetylcholinesterase, a key enzyme in nerve transmission. Propanil, an acetanilide herbicide, is used to control grass and broad-leaf weeds. The phenotypic effects of single doses of each chemical were evaluated using a standard immobilisation assay. Immobilisation was linked to global mRNA expression levels using the previously estimated 48h-EC(1)s, followed by hybridization to a cDNA microarray with more than 13,000 redundant cDNA clones representing >5000 unique genes. Following exposure to methomyl and propanil, differential expression was found for 624 and 551 cDNAs, respectively (one-way ANOVA with Bonferroni correction, P</=0.05, more than 2-fold change) and up-regulation was prevalent for both test chemicals. Both pesticides promoted transcriptional changes in energy metabolism (e.g., mitochondrial proteins, ATP synthesis-related proteins), moulting (e.g., chitin-binding proteins, cuticular proteins) and protein biosynthesis (e.g., ribosomal proteins, transcription factors). Methomyl induced the transcription of genes involved in specific processes such as ion homeostasis and xenobiotic metabolism. Propanil highly promoted haemoglobin synthesis and up-regulated genes specifically related to defence mechanisms (e.g., innate immunity response systems) and neuronal pathways. Pesticide-specific toxic responses were found but there is little evidence for transcriptional responses purely restricted to genes associated with the pesticide target site or mechanism of toxicity.