Zinc and lead did not affect the rate of respiration and fermentation. Concentrations of cadmium higher than 10/sup -7/ M and concentrations of mercury higher than 5 x 10/sup -5/ M significantly reduced the O/sub 2/ consumption and the CO/sub 2/ production. 10/sup -2/ M cadmium and 10/sup -3/ M mercury completely inhibited respiration and fermentation. Low concentrations of mercury inhibited respiration irreversibly and fermentation reversibly. High concentrations of zinc reduced the toxicity of low concentrations of cadmium but they enhanced the effects of high concentrations of cadmium and mercury. No interactions between lead and the other tested heavy metals were observed.