It is likely that the introduction of the brown macroalga Undaria pinnatfida from the Pacific into the North Atlantic will impact competitively on the native species Saccorhiza polyschides; both are large kelps occupying the same subtidal zone with very similar life histories. The present study examines their tolerance to changes in salinity, under laboratory conditions, in order to provide a better understanding of their respective competitiveness in an estuarine environment. Experiments were carried out over a full range of salinity values, from 35 to 0, with respect to zoospore settlement and attachment, germination, post-germination progression to form gametophytes, gametophyte sex ratio, sporophyte production and blade length. Undaria zoospores settled and attached over the salinity range from 35 to 14 and germinated between 35 and 3.5. Post-germination progression occurred over the range from 35 to 14 whilst only small differences in the male/female ratio were recorded. Sporophyte blade production and development occurred over the range from 35 to 17.5 and peak production and longest blade length was recorded at 21. Saccorhiza zoospores settled and attached at and above 24.5 and germinated between 35 and 21. Sporophyte production and blade development occurred over the range from 35 to 24.5. In general, Undaria was shown to be much more tolerant of reductions in salinity compared to Saccorhiza and is more likely to penetrate further into estuarine environments.