Engineered nano-sized Cu oxide particles are extensively used in diverse applications. Because aquatic environments are the ultimate "sink" for all contaminants, it is expected that nanoparticles (NP) will follow the same fate. In this study, two marine invertebrates Scrobicularia plana and Hediste diversicolor were chosen as ecotoxicological models. The aim was to evaluate behavioural (burrowing kinetics, feeding rate) and biochemical (biomarkers) responses of S. plana and H. diversicolor exposed in the laboratory to Cu (10 μg L(-1)) added in natural seawater either in the form of engineered nanoparticles (NPs) of CuO or as dissolved Cu in 2% HNO(3). Exposure was characterized by considering (i) the physico-chemical fate of NP (ii) the fraction of labile Cu in experimental media and (iii) Cu bioaccumulation. Results showed high aggregation of CuO NPs in seawater and no additional bioavailable Cu concentrations. Behavioural impairments were observed in S. plana exposed to CuO NPs or soluble Cu whereas in H. diversicolor, only the exposure to soluble Cu led to a burrowing decrease. No obvious neurotoxicity effects were revealed since in both species, no changes in cholinesterasic activity occurred in response to both forms of Cu exposure. Biomarkers of oxidative-stress catalase and glutathione-S-transferase were enhanced in both species whereas superoxide dismutase was increased only in S. plana exposed to CuO NPs. Metallothionein-like protein was increased in bivalves exposed to both forms of Cu. Since, no detectable release of soluble Cu from CuO NPs occurred during the time of experiment, ecotoxicity effects seem to be related to CuO NPs themselves.