After treatment with 1.0 and 3.3 micrograms Pb kg-1 for 20 weeks in flowing seawater at ambient salinity and temperature, Crassostrea virginica accumulated as much as 6.57 and 11.42 micrograms g-1 dry weight, respectively, and no mortalities were recorded. Lead uptake was curvilinear; however, the general trend was an increase in lead concentration over time. Dry weight of the oyster had no significant relation with tissue lead concentration (micrograms g-1); however, a significant positive relationship existed between weight and lead content (micrograms). A decrease in lead concentration in the tissues occurred from mid-August to mid-September despite continuous addition of lead to the seawater. Addition of lead to the seawater was terminated after 20 weeks (October), and lead loss was studied for the following 12 weeks. Lead loss was studied well after spawning in an attempt to eliminate any influence this might have on lead concentration in the tissues. After 4 weeks, approximately 54% of the accumulated lead was lost under conditions of a natural temperature decline. The biological half-life of lead in c. virginica tissues was calculated to be 5.5 weeks. In the ensuing 8 weeks, little or no lead loss was observed. Larvae from each treatment developed to the straight-hinged stage within 48 h with no apparent abnormalities. Lead appeared to have no adverse effect on larvae when parents had been treated with 1.0 and 3.3 micrograms kg-1 seawater for 10 weeks.