The purpose of this study was to identify misconceptions concerning chemical equilibrium concepts and to investigate the effectiveness of instruction based on the constructivist approach over traditional instruction on 10th grade students’ understanding of chemical equilibrium concepts. The subjects of this study consisted of 71 10th grade students from two chemistry classes of the same teacher. Each teaching strategy was randomly assigned to one class. The data were obtained from 32 students in the experimental group taught with instruction informed by the constructivist approach and 39 students in the control group taught with traditional instruction. The data were analysed using analysis of covariance. The results indicated that the students who used the constructivist principles-oriented instruction earned significantly higher scores than those taught by traditional instruction in terms of achievement related to chemical equilibrium concepts. In addition, students’ previous learning and science process skills each made a significant contribution to the achievement related to chemical equilibrium concepts. In light of the findings obtained from the results, an additional misconception of chemical equilibrium concepts was determined in addition to the misconceptions in related literature. This misconception is that when one of the reactants is added to the equilibrium system, the concentration of the substance that was added will decrease below its value at the initial equilibrium. © 2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd.