The tissue-specific accumulation and time-dependent depuration of radioactive (63)Ni by the byssus, gut, foot, gills, kidney, adductor muscle and faeces of Mytilus edulis has been investigated using a pulse-chase technique. The rate and extent of depuration of (63)Ni varied between tissues and, after 168 h, the concentration factors and assimilation efficiencies ranged from 1 to 35 L kg(-1) and 5%-13%, respectively. Mussels were also exposed to a range of environmentally-realistic concentrations of dissolved Ni, prior to the analysis of biological endpoints. The clearance rate was concentration-dependent and at the highest concentration decreased by 30%. Neutral red retention (NRR) assays indicated a cytotoxic response and DNA strand breaks were observed in the haemocytes. The association of DNA damage with that of physiological and cytotoxic effects suggests that Ni exerts a significant impact on Mytilus edulis at cellular and genetic levels.