Cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic were determined by means of atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The procedures used for digestion, extraction and concentration and the measuring technique are described. Nearly 1500 determinations of lead, 1200 determinations of mercury and arsenic, respectively, and 800 determinations of cadmium in foods permitted to calculate (taking into account the food habits) the dietary loads on the Austrian population. The loads per individual and month were: 5.9 mg lead (infants aged from 1--12 months: 0.18--2.5 mg), 2.02 mg cadmium (infants, 0.04--0.61 mg), 0.2 mg mercury and 0.9 mg arsenic. Whereas the cadmium intake was somewhat greater than the maximum value established by the FAO/WHO (1.6--2.0 mg/individual and month), the intakes of lead, mercury and arsenic were considerably lower than the maximum values.