Abstract This paper attempts to link the kinetics of Cd and metallothionein turnover in the intertidal marine snail Littorina littorea. The results demonstrate that the turnover of metallothionein is tissue dependent. Metallothionein has an estimated half-life of 69 and 160 days in the gills and kidney, respectively. The half-life could not be calculated for metallothionein in the digestive gland and is probably much longer than the other two tissues. Cadmium elimination from the gill and kidney is considerably slower than the respective metallothioneins (half-life in excess of 300 days) indicating closed cycling of the metal in these tissues. In contrast, cadmium levels in the digestive gland continue to increase during the detoxification period reflecting some remobilization from other tissues. Metallothionein turnover is extremely slow in Littorina when compared with mammals and other bivalve molluscs: even though metallothionein degradation is measurable in some gastropod tissues, the released cadmium may induce de novo metallothionein synthesis to which cadmium becomes resequestered. The slow metallothionein turnover rates and the lack of significant cadmium excretion testify to the relatively stable nature of the cadmium-metallothionein complex in this invertebrate.