There is substantial evidence that genetic variation, at both the level of the individual and population, has a significant effect on behaviour, fitness and response to toxicants. Using DNA microsatellites, we examined the genetic variation in samples of several commonly used laboratory strains of zebrafish, Danio rerio, a model species in toxicological studies. We compared the genetic variation to that found in a sample of wild fish from Bangladesh. Our findings show that the wild fish were significantly more variable than the laboratory strains for several measures of genetic variability, including allelic richness and expected heterozygosity. This lack of variation should be given due consideration for any study which attempts to extrapolate the results of ecotoxicological laboratory tests to wild populations.