Heavy metals such as copper, zinc and lead are normal constituents of marine and estuarine environments. When additional quantities are introduced from industrial wastes or sewage they enter the biogeochemical cycle and, as a result of being potentially toxic, may interfere with the ecology of a particular environment. In different marine organisms, the behavior of heavy metals is described in terms of their absorption, storage, excretion and regulation when different concentrations are available in the environment. At higher concentrations, the detrimental effects of heavy metals become apparent and their different toxic effects and factors affecting them are also described. 78 references, 9 figures, 4 tables.