The recent development of the chemical speciation of trace metals in seawater is described. The speciation studies reveal that metal ion complexation is one of the most important processes in seawater; especially, most bioactive trace metals, such as Fe(III) and Cu, exist as complexes with ligands in dissolved organic matter. The organic ligands in seawater are characterized with metal ions selected by the HSAB concept. A strong organic ligand, which originates from marine microorganisms, is classified as a hard base including carboxylates. The free organic ligand concentrations in seawater are buffered by complexation with excess amounts of Ca and Mg in seawater. The chemical equilibrium model suggested that the concentrations of bioactive free metal ions are at an optimal level to activities of marine microorganisms. For chemical speciation, it is important to have a better understanding of the ecological roles of trace metals in seawater.