Abstract Spatial and temporal trends of mercury (Hg) and 22 other elements were examined in landlocked Arctic char ( Salvelinus alpinus) from six lakes in the Canadian Arctic (Char, Resolute and North Lakes, and Amituk Lake on Cornwallis Island, Sapphire Lake on Devon Island and Boomerang Lake on Somerset Island). The objectives of the study were to compare recent concentrations of Hg and other metals in char with older data from Amituk, Resolute and Char Lakes, in order to examine temporal trends as well as to investigate factors influencing spatial trends in contaminant levels such as lake characteristics, trophic position, size and age of the fish. Geometric mean Hg concentrations in dorsal muscle ranged from 0.147 μg/g wet weight (ww) in Resolute Lake to 1.52 μg/g ww in Amituk Lake for samples collected over the period 1999–2003. Char from Amituk Lake also had significantly higher selenium (Se). Mercury in char from Resolute Lake was strongly correlated with fish length, weight, and age, as well as with thallium, lead and Se. In 5 of 6 lakes, Hg concentrations were correlated with stable nitrogen isotope ratios ( δ 15N) and larger char were feeding at a higher trophic level presumably due to feeding on smaller char. Weight adjusted mean Hg concentrations in char from Amituk Lake, and unadjusted geometric means in Char Lake and Resolute Lakes, did not show any statistically significant increase from the early 1990s to 2003. However, small sample sizes from 1999–2003 for fish < 1000 g limited the power of this comparison in Char and Amituk Lakes. In Resolute Lake char, manganese, strontium and zinc showed consistent decreases from 1997 or 1999 to 2003 while nickel generally increased over the 6 year period. Differences in char trophic level inferred from δ 15N values best explained the higher concentrations of Hg in Amituk Lake compared to the other lakes.