Increased focus on the development and application of bioavailability-based metal water quality guideline values requires increased understanding of the influence of water chemistry on metal bioavailability and toxicity. Development of empirical models, such as multiple linear regression models, requires the assessment of the influence of individual water quality parameters as toxicity-modifying factors. The present study investigated the effect of pH on the lability and toxicity of zinc (Zn) to a tropical green microalga (Chlorella sp.). Zinc speciation and lability were explored using the Windermere Humic Aqueous Model (WHAM7), ultrafiltration, and diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT). Zinc toxicity increased significantly with increasing pH from 6.7 to 8.3, with 50% growth inhibition effect concentrations decreasing from 185 to 53 µg l–1 across the pH range. Linear relationships between DGT-labile Zn and dissolved Zn did not vary across the tested pH range, nor did the linear relationship between dissolved (<0.45 µm) and ultrafiltered (<3 kDa) Zn. Our findings show that Zn toxicity to this freshwater alga is altered as a function of pH across environmentally realistic pH ranges and that these toxicity changes could not be explained by Zn speciation and lability as measured by DGT and WHAM7. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:2836–2845. © 2021 SETAC.