During the period 1996–1999 a joint field research programme (BIOPRINT-II) funded by the European Union was undertaken. The main objective of this project was the deployment of biochemical fingerprint techniques of soil invertebrate biomarkers for assessing the exposure and effect of toxicants on soil invertebrates in the field. The aim was to apply these techniques in the field focusing on a a chronically polluted field near a lead and zinc smelter in Avonmouth (UK). Therefore six sites were selected from which organisms were either sampled or transplanted to or from the laboratory. The project has provided a unique opportunity to apply a series of biological test methodologies in order to determine the hazard posed to soil sustainability and by inference soil biodiversity and function. This work has attempted to understand the linkage between effects measured at the molecular or cellular level and relate these to changes at higher levels of biological organisation. Here we evaluated the links between biomarkers and soil function parameters. The paper aims to summarize and explore the necessary caveats that must be understood before soil biomarker test systems may be used to strengthen the risk assessment process.