Butenolide [5-octylfuran-2(5H)-one] is a very promising antifouling compound. Here, the effects of butenolide on larval behavior and histology are compared in two major fouling organisms, viz. cypris larvae of Balanus amphitrite and swimming larvae of Bugula neritina. Butenolide diminished the positive phototactic behavior of B. amphitrite (EC50=0.82 μg ml(-1)) and B. neritina (EC50=3 μg ml(-1)). Its effect on the attachment of cyprids of B. amphitrite was influenced by temperature, and butenolide increased attachment of larvae of B. neritina to the bottom of the experimental wells. At concentrations of 4 μg ml(-1) and 10 μg ml(-1), butenolide decreased attachment of B. amphitrite and B. neritina, respectively, but the effects were reversible within a certain treatment time. Morphologically, butenolide inhibited the swelling of secretory granules and altered the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) in the cement gland of B. amphitrite cyprids. In B. neritina swimming larvae, butenolide reduced the number of secretory granules in the pyriform-glandular complex.