The role of zooplankton in the control of cyanobacterial blooms and the transfer of cyanotoxins to higher trophic levels are of great importance to the management of water resources. Many studies have focused on the cyanobacterium Microcystis, but few have examined the interactions between zooplankton and filamentous cyanobacteria. In this study, we provide experimental evidence for the potential grazing of two toxic strains of filamentous cyanobacteria, Planktothrix rubescens and P. agardhii, by Daphnia pulicaria, and for transfer of toxins in the planktonic food chain. We determined clearance rates (CRs) by adult and juvenile D. pulicaria of the two Planktothrix strains, Scenedesmus acutus and a mixture of S. acutus cells with P. rubescens culture filtrate. Filament lengths were analyzed, and microcystin (MCY) presence in Daphnia was assessed using the Protein Phosphatase-2A (PP-2A) Inhibition Assay. The two Planktothrix strains were equally grazed by D. pulicaria, but at lower CRs than S. acutus. Potential anti-grazer toxins in P. rubescens filtrate did not inhibit Daphnia grazing. Small P. rubescens (< 100 mu m) filaments were preferentially grazed by adult D. pulicaria, suggesting their limited ability to control a Planktothrix population during a bloom. Large quantities of MCYs were found in unstarved Daphnia previously exposed to Planktothrix, whereas quantities were significantly smaller in individuals starved for 24 h before preservation. This indicated a potential for transfer of toxins in the food chain by Daphnia, especially immediately after ingestion of toxic cyanobacteria.