Temperature, salinity, bottom-sediment type, and zinc concentration all influenced Cd uptake by 4 marine bivalves (Mya arenaria, Mytilus edulis, Mulinia lateralis and Nucula proxima) in short-term static assay systems using 109Cd as a tracer. The experimental system consisted of aquaria containing 20 1 of seawater maintained under controlled light and temperature conditions. The water contained either 5 or 20 micrograms/l Cd and tracer. Distribution and kinetics of the metal were monitored in the water column and organisms. The results demonstrate that Cd uptake rates differed widely among the organisms tested. An increase in temperature increased Cd uptake rate by all test organisms. A decrease in salinity increased Cd uptake by all organisms tested. The presence of bottom sediment depresses Cd accumulation in some benthic animals. Zinc in concentrations of 0.5 mg/l substantially decreased Cd uptake by Mytilus edulis and Mulinia lateralis. It is suggested that all important species and environmental variables be considered when studying heavy-metal uptake by marine organisms or when establishing water-quality criteria.