Resurrecting legacy lineages of organisms from sediment cores of known geological age allows us to understand how environmental change can cause selection pressures that constrain the variation of populations over time. We quantified the lifetime tolerance and effects of Cu(II) exposure on Daphnia galeata in a polluted subalpine lake by comparing extant individuals with those resurrected from ephippia extracted from ca. 30-years-old sediments. Laboratory experiments were conducted using two Cu(II) concentrations, 40 and 10 lg L-1, corresponding to the levels recorded in the lake, during chemical recovery, when Daphnia first re-appeared and succeeded. Contemporary Daphnia were unable to survive after the 10th day at either of the Cu(II) concentrations, and were unable to successfully reproduce. Daphnia cohorts from the past performed better in low Cu(II) concentrations than in copper-free, control conditions. The copper-adapted, tolerant Daphnia strains grew faster under non-toxic conditions, but were unable to survive new pollution events.