Ammonium perchlorate (AP) is a widespread military waste product in the United States and is a potent thyroid function disruptor in all vertebrates tested thus far. To determine the relative contribution of ammonium ions to the toxicity of AR we exposed embryonic and larval Xenopus laevis to various concentrations of sodium perchlorate (SP) or ammonium chloride (AC). Ammonium perchlorate was significantly more lethal than SP; 5-d LC50s were 83 and 2,780 mg/L, respectively. To determine whether ammonium ions contribute to the antithyroid effects of AR we exposed embryonic and larval X. laevis to two sublethal, environmentally relevant concentrations of AP or identical concentrations of AC or SR At the smaller concentration, only AP delayed metamorphosis and reduced hindlimb growth. Sodium perchlorate and AR but not AC, prevented metamorphosis and reduced hindlimb growth at the greater concentration. Although AP was slightly more effective in reducing outward manifestations of thyroid disruption, both perchlorate salts, unlike AC, caused profound histopathologic changes in the thyroid. Exposure to the higher concentration of either perchlorate salt produced a feminizing effect, resulting in a skewed sex ratio. We conclude that ammonium ions contribute significantly to the toxicity of AP but not to the direct antithyroid effects of perchlorate.