In the Upper Columbia River (UCR) between Trail, BC, and Grand Coulee Dam, WA, it has been hypothesized that metals associated with sediments might be contributing to poor recruitment of white sturgeon. Accordingly, the present study employed laboratory flow-through tests to characterize chronic toxicity of UCR sediments to early life stages of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). Sediments were collected from areas of the UCR known to be sturgeon spawning- and/or nursing-grounds and contained a range of concentrations of metals of primary interest, including copper (Cu), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). Early life stage white sturgeon were exposed for 60 days and survival and growth were related to concentrations of metals in bulk sediment, pore water, overlying water, and water at the sediment-water interface. Based on probable effect concentrations (PECs) and excess simultaneously extracted metals (SEMX), site sediments in the present study had the potential to elicit adverse effects to sediment-dwelling organisms. In addition, the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) was used to allow for more explicit consideration of bioavailability of metals to white sturgeon. BLM predictions indicated that concentrations of Cu in pore water slightly exceeded the threshold for effects (up to a factor of 2.2) for two of the five site sediments, while concentrations of metals in overlying water and at the sediment-water interface were below the threshold for effects. No effects were observed, however, in survival or growth of white sturgeon exposed to site sediments that were relatable to concentrations of metals. Of the methods used to characterize potential effects due to exposure to metals associated with sediments, BLM predictions corresponded best with the observed results.