There is much evidence that suggests that freshwater systems are more sensitive to introduced predators than are terrestrial or marine systems. We argue here that this dichotomy reflects widespread naiveté toward introduced predators among freshwater prey. Continental terrestrial animals are seldom naive toward novel predators owing to the homogenizing effects of historical biotic interchanges. Comparable biotic interchanges might have also precluded prey naiveté in most marine systems. By contrast, freshwater systems exhibit persistent large- and small-scale heterogeneity in predation regimes. This heterogeneity promotes naiveté at multiple spatial scales in freshwater prey, thereby producing a systemic vulnerability to introduced predators that is not seen in continental terrestrial or marine systems.