An assay capable of simultaneously measuring both general toxicity and more subtle genotoxicity, in aqueous environmental samples, is described. The assay uses eukaryotic (yeast) cells, genetically modified to express a green fluorescent protein (GFP) whenever DNA damage, as a result of exposure to genotoxic agents, is repaired. A measure of the reduction in cell proliferation is used to characterise general toxicity producing familiar EC50 and LOEC data. The assay protocol has been developed for proposed use in the field and hence employs dedicated, portable instrumentation, the development of which is described. A range of environmentally relevant substances has been evaluated using the assay, including solutions of metal ions, solvents and pesticides. Preliminary data comparing the yeast assay's response to that of a standard Daphnia test in the analysis of the toxicity of 34 varied industrial waste effluents are also presented. The sensitivity to a wide range of substances and effluents suggests the assay should be useful for environmental toxicity monitoring.