Juvenile Helix aspersa snails were exposed for 4 weeks to fresh rape leaves (Brassica napus), contaminated by simulating superficial deposits of increasing concentrations of cadmium (Cd). The Cd concentration in leaves was 0.1 in control and 38.4, 93.1, and 177.2 microg x g(-1) (dry mass) in Cd-treated food. The concentration in snail tissues increased with increasing Cd concentrations in the food. The bioaccumulation factors ranged from 4.8 (control) to 2.4 (highest exposed group), indicating a biomagnification of Cd in this food chain. The growth of the snails treated with Cd was reduced by 17, 24, and 43% respectively, compared to the control group. Comparison of these results with those obtained with snails exposed to similar Cd concentrations in a vegetable flour revealed that accumulation and effects were relatively consistent, demonstrating a comparable bioavailability of Cd in the two diets. Tests using growing H. aspersa snails exposed to metals in flour or fresh leaves can be useful for risk assessment purposes.