In vivo nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is a powerful technique for characterizing the sublethal actions of physical and chemical stressors in live, intact organisms. In particular, 31P NMR is ideal for observing perturbations to cellular energetics since critical metabolite concentrations, including phosphagens, ATP and inorganic phosphate (Pi), can be measured non-invasively and in real time. This technique's versatility is demonstrated not only in the diversity of organisms that can be studied, but also in its broad-ranging applicability to environmental research. Illustrative studies include the actions of copper in adult red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) and changes in energetically important metabolites in developing medaka embryos (Oryzias latipes). Advantages and disadvantages of in vivo NMR will be discussed.