Trace metals (Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn) were analysed in zooplankton samples and decapod crustaceans collected on cruises of "RV Walther Herwig III" to the Barents Sea (Summer 1991, 1994 and 2000). We found a substantial spatial heterogeneity in the decapod crustacean Pandalus borealis, with increasing Cd concentrations from the south (North Cape Bank; 0.7 mg kg super(- 1) DW) to the north (north of Svalbard; 4.7 mg kg super(- 1)), supporting the hypothesis that the frequently reported Cd-anomaly in polar crustaceans might be extended to the Barents Sea. Regarding various crustaceans and zooplankton collectives (2000) a distinct interspecific heterogeneity of metals was obvious, with lowest Cd concentrations in euphausiids and chaetognaths and highest ones in decapods and hyperiid amphipods; lowest Cu concentrations in chaetognaths and copepods and highest ones in euphausiids and decapods; and lowest Zn concentrations in euphausiids and decapods and highest ones in some copepods. For Pb many values were below or close to the limit of detection, suggesting that Pb concentrations about 0.4 mg kg super(- 1) might serve as a regional background value. Results for Cd, Cu and Zn in copepods of this study are largely within the reported range, but high Cd concentrations in copepods from summer in contrast to reported lower ones during winter/spring may be related either to changing accumulation strategies of the copepod species involved or to seasonally changing Cd absorption in copepods from food.