Modern analytical test methods increasingly detect anthropogenic organic substances and their transformation products in water samples and in the environment. The presence of these compounds might pose a risk to the aquatic environment. To determine a possible (eco)toxicological risk, aquatic samples are tested using various bioassays, including sub-organismic assays such as the luminescent bacteria inhibition test, the acetylcholinesterase inhibition test, and the umu-test. The effect-directed analysis (EDA) combines physicochemical separation methods with biological (in vitro) tests. High-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) has proved to be particularly well suited for the separation of organic compounds and the subsequent analysis of effects by the application of the biotests directly on the surface of the HPTLC plate. The advantage of using HPTLC in comparison to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) for EDA is that the solvent which is used as a mobile phase during chromatography is completely evaporated after the separation and therefore can no longer influence the applied bioassays.A prioritization during the complex identification process can be achieved when observed effects are associated with the separated zones in HPTLC. This increases the probability of identifying the substance responsible for an adverse effect from the multitude of organic trace substances in environmental samples. Furthermore, by comparing the pattern of biological effects of a separated sample, it is possible to track and assess changes in biological activity over time, over space, or in the course of a process, even without identifying the substance. HPTLC has already been coupled with various bioassays.Because HPTLC is a very flexible system, various detection techniques can be used and combined. In addition to the UV/Vis absorption and fluorescence measurements, TLC can also be coupled with a mass spectrometer (MS) for compound identification. In addition, detection of functional groups by means of derivatization reagents can support this identification. It is also possible to combine derivatization and HPLC-MS.Two case studies are used to illustrate the significance of HPTLC-EDA in investigating water quality: Study on a wastewater treatment plant Possible influence of an artificial turf surface on ground water.