The transfer and the toxic effects of Cd were studied in an experimental food chain involving the snail Helix aspersa as prey organism and one of its natural predators, the carabid beetle Chrysocarabus splendens. Juvenile snails were fed plant-based food enriched with 0, 10, 50 and 100 microg g(-1) of Cd, then were offered as prey to beetle larvae from egg hatching to pupation stage. Cd concentrations in snail tissues increased with increasing Cd concentration in food and with duration of exposure. Bioaccumulation factors ranged from 1.87 to 3.39, showing that H. aspersa snails, even in their early life stages, belong to macroconcentrator species for Cd. No significant reduction of snail consumption by beetles was found in exposed groups. Cd concentrations in beetle larvae remained very low (lower than 1 microg g(-1) for all groups), demonstrating a very effective regulation capacity in beetle larvae. However, Cd concentrations in highest exposed groups were higher than those found in control groups. Cd contents in adult beetles were lower than in larvae, showing a loss of Cd during metamorphosis. Despite the low Cd concentrations found in beetles, their exposure to Cd contaminated snails led to 31% of mortality, which occurred only during pupation and for the highest exposure level. No clear sublethal effects were found. These results showed that snails inhabiting heavily polluted areas may represent a risk of secondary poisoning for predatory invertebrates and provided quantitative data on the transfer of Cd between two compartments of a terrestrial food chain.