OBJECTIVE The objective of this study is to examine if overall correlation exists among cadmium levels (Cd) in the general environment, dietary Cd intake, and Cd body burden of local residents. METHODS Eleven prefectures in Japan were selected as the areas where large-scale data on Cd levels in urine of adult women (40-49 and 50-59 years of age, respectively) were available to calculate geometric mean (GM) values for each of the prefecture. Other data were cited from published or previously established databases on Cd in the sediments of river bottoms (as a representative of Cd in the environment), Cd in rice for local consumption, and Cd in daily food duplicate samples collected from local women populations, and calculated for GM values for the prefectures. The GM values were subjected to correlation matrix and regression analysis. RESULTS Marginally significant (P < 0.10) correlation was detected between Cd in sediment and Cd in rice. Furthermore, correlation of Cd in sediment was significant with Cd in total foods (P < 0.05) and possibly with Cd in urine (P < 0.05-0.10). Importance of data on Cd in rice paddy soil as a missing link is discussed. CONCLUSIONS Correlation was demonstrated in the flow of Cd transport from the environment (expressed as Cd contents in river sediments) to humans (in terms of Cd in urine) among general populations in Japan.