Abstract The aim of the present study was to determine trace element status and toxic metal accumulation in extensive and intensive pigs in NW Spain. Soil, feed and animal tissues (liver, kidney and muscle from 112 pigs) were collected from extensive and intensive pig farms across NW Spain and analysed for metals by ICP-MS and ICP-OES. Our results indicate that animals from both extensive and intensive systems showed an adequate mineral status and that toxic metal residues were generally low, no sample exceeding the maximum admissible levels in meat and meat products established by the EU. Trace element concentrations were generally higher in the intensive pigs possibly reflecting mineral supplementation in the concentrate feed. The statistically significantly higher As, Hg and Pb residues as well as the better Fe and Ni status in extensive pigs could be related at least in part with soil ingestion when rooting. On the contrary, the higher Cd accumulation in the intensive pigs can be explained considering Cu and Zn supplementation in the concentrate feed. Our results also seem to indicate that toxic metal accumulation as well as trace element status in different tissues could be related to metabolic aspects (i.e. related to breed and growth rate) as well as certain management practices (i.e. physical exercise when grazing).