Abstract Background A challenge of in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) is to predict the physical state of organisms exposed to chemicals in the environment from in vitro exposure assay data. Although toxicokinetic modeling approaches promise to bridge in vitro screening data with in vivo effects, they are often encumbered by a need for redesign or re-parameterization when applied to different tissues or chemicals. Results We demonstrate a parameterization of reverse toxicokinetic (rTK) models developed for the adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) based upon particle swarm optimizations (PSO) of the chemical uptake and degradation rates that predict bioconcentration factors (BCF) for a broad range of chemicals. PSO reveals a relationship between chemical uptake and decomposition parameter values that predicts chemical-specific BCF values with moderate statistical agreement to a limited yet diverse chemical dataset, and all without a need to retrain the model to new data. Conclusions The presented model requires only the octanol-water partitioning ratio to predict BCFs to a fidelity consistent with existing QSAR models. This success begs re-evaluation of the modeling assumptions; specifically, it suggests that chemical uptake into arterial blood may be limited by transport across gill membranes (diffusion) rather than by counter-current flow between gill lamellae (convection). Therefore, more detailed molecular modeling of aquatic respiration may further improve predictive accuracy of the rTK approach.