Environmental pollution with the nephrotoxic metal cadmium is considered a potential health risk for the general population. In 1976 it was reported that the cadmium concentration in human kidney cortex in Sweden had increased in parallel with increasing levels in soil and grain during the twentieth century. Since the cadmium concentration in farming lands is still increasing, the present study was undertaken to further elucidate whether the cadmium concentration in the kidney is still increasing. Kidney cortex biopsies were collected at 171 autopsies of victims to sudden and accidental death during 1995 and 1996, and the cadmium concentrations were determined and compared with previously published Swedish data obtained from forensic autopsies. The geometric mean cadmium concentration in kidney cortex in subjects 40 years of age and younger was about 40% of the concentration found in the 1970s, while the reduction was less pronounced among older people. The highest individual concentration of cadmium was 41.5 microg/g wet weight (ww). The geometric mean concentration was less than 14 microg/g ww at ages around 50 years of age, when the cadmium concentration in kidney cortex is highest, as compared with approximately 20 microg/g ww in the 1970s. There was also a reduction in cadmium concentrations among nonsmokers; thus, a decrease in tobacco smoking in Sweden during the last decades is not the only explanation for the reduction of cadmium in the kidney cortex. Other reasons for this reduction could be changes in dietary habits and reduced cadmium contamination from Swedish industries.