Information is required on pesticide risk indicators used in Europe in order to optimise their use to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides. The present study was performed to compare and evaluate eight pesticide risk indicators developed in Europe and to give recommendations for further use and harmonisation of these risk indicators. This paper is based on the results of the CAPER project (concerted action on pesticide risk indicators). First the indicators and their methodologies were characterised. The eight indicators differed with regard to the compartments, effects and methods used to calculate environmental impact scores. Subsequently, the environmental risk of 15 individual pesticide applications was assessed with the eight indicators and the outcomes were compared. The rankings of the 15 applications by the indicators differed when the score for the environment as a whole was concerned. This was caused by the large variety in environmental compartments taken into account by the indicators. However, for the individual compartments surface water, groundwater and soil the indicators gave similar rankings of the 15 pesticide applications. The ranking based on the indicator ‘kilograms of active ingredient’ did not correlate with most of the rankings by the risk indicators. Indicators are regarded as useful tools for the reduction of the environmental impact of pesticides. The development of a scientific framework for indicators in farmer decision tools is needed to harmonise and increase the use of pesticide risk indicators in the European Union.