Based on our previous finding that the concentrations of total mercury in mussel adductor muscle approximated those of methylmercury, we compared concentrations of total mercury in the adductor muscle of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, collected from four sites around Minamata City from 1993 to 1995 and four sites in Kagoshima Bay from 1997 to 1998, to assess the level of localized methylmercury contamination. Though the input of mercury from the chemical plant had stopped by around 1970, concentrations of total mercury in the mussel adductor muscle were higher at two sites (26-121 ng/g, n = 135) near the main fallout of wastewater from the chemical plant in Minamata Bay than at the other sites, i.e. two sites 1-5 km from the former sites in Minamata City (6-28 ng/g, n = 52), and all sites in Kagoshima Bay (2-30 ng/g, n = 287). The localized methylmercury contamination around the chemical plant in Minamata Bay was documented also by our sensitive analysis of mercury concentrations in seawater and sediment samples. The survey of concentrations of total mercury in the mussel adductor muscle seems to be useful for monitoring the methylmercury contamination in coastal areas.