Accumulation rates of Cd have been studied in the common mussel Mytilus edulis L. under different laboratory conditions. Semi-static and through-flow experiments were carried out at Cd concentrations of 200 ppb and 50/100 ppb in the water, respectively. A linear uptake of Cd throughout the experimental periods of 36 or 124 d was found in all experiments. The accumulation rate was 3.10 ppm d-1 at 50 ppb in the through-flow water experiment, 4.1 ppm d-1 in starved and 6.6 ppm d-1 in fed mussels in the semi-static experiments with 200 ppb Cd in the water. The Cd-accumulation rate in various fractions of soft parts decreased in the order: body>mantle>muscles. Elution patterns obtained from gel-filtrations showed an increasing amount of Cd-binding proteins (metallothioneins) when the body burden of Cd increased. The Cd content in the body fraction of mussels transferred to clean water for 42 d after first being exposed to Cd during 124 d decreased from 564 ppm on a dry weight basis to 417 ppm while the fraction of Cd bound to metallothioneins rose from 22 to 78% during the same period.