Although the effects of estrogens on model laboratory species are well documented, their utility as surrogates for other species, including those listed as endangered, are less clear. Traditionally, conservation policies are evaluated based on model organism responses but are intended to protect all species in an environment. We tested the hypothesis that the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus) is more vulnerable to endocrine disruption—as assessed through its larval predator-escape performance, survival, juvenile sex ratios, and whole-body vitellogenin concentration—than the commonly used toxicological model species fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) and the bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus). Fish were exposed concurrently for 21 days to the model endocrine active compound (EAC) 17ß-estradiol (E2) at 10 ng E2/L and 30 ng E2/L in a flow-through system using reconstituted water that simulated the physicochemical conditions of the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico, USA. No significant differences were observed between the fathead and silvery minnow in larval predator-escape response or juvenile sex ratio. Rio Grande silvery minnow survival decreased significantly at day 14 compared with the other two species; by day 21, both cyprinid species (silvery minnow and fathead minnow) exhibited a significant decrease in survival compared with bluegill sunfish, a member of the family Centrarchidae. Male Rio Grande silvery minnow showed a significant increase in whole-body vitellogenin concentration in the 10 ng/L treatment, whereas fathead minnow and bluegill sunfish showed no significant increases in vitellogenin concentrations across treatments. Our study showed response differences to estrogen exposures between the two cyprinid species and further divergence in responses between the families Cyprinidae and Centrarchidae. These results suggest that commonly used laboratory model organisms may be less sensitive to EACs than the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. However, this study supports the continued use of surrogate species for the beneficial implementation of water-quality regulations for the protection of threatened and endangered species if phylogenetic relationships are taken into consideration.