Chlorinated phenols, or chlorophenols, are persistent priority pollutants that are widespread in the environment. Class III peroxidases are well-characterised plant enzymes that can catalyse the oxidative dechlorination of chlorophenols. Expression of these enzymes by plants is commonly associated with plant stress, therefore limiting scope for phytoremediation. In this study, we have quantitatively compared peroxidase activity and phytotoxicity as a function of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (TCP) concentration in three species of Lemnaceae; Lemna minor, Lemna gibba and Landoltia punctata. Effects of TCP on the growth rates of the three species differed considerably with L. punctata being the most tolerant species. TCP also affected photosynthetic parameters, causing a decrease in open photosystem II reaction centres (qP) and, in L punctata only, a decrease in non-photochemical quenching (qN). In parallel, TCP exposure resulted in increased peroxidase activity in all three species. Peroxidase activity in L minor and L. gibba displayed an inverse relationship with biomass accumulation, i.e. the more growth reduction the more peroxidase activity. In contrast, induction of peroxidase activity in L punctata was bi-phasic, with a TCP-induced activity peak at concentrations that had no major effect on growth, and further induction under phytotoxic concentrations. The mechanism by which L punctata recognises and responds to low concentrations of an anthropogenic compound, in the absence of wide-ranging stress, remains enigmatic. However, we conclude that this "window" of peroxidase production in the absence of major growth inhibition offers potential for the development of sustainable, peroxidise-mediated phytoremediation systems. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.