Heavy metals are regularly found in liquid pig manure, and might interact with bacterial antimicrobial resistance. Concentrations of heavy metals were determined by atomic spectroscopic methods in 305 pig manure samples and were connected to the phenotypic resistance of Escherichia coli (n=613) against 29 antimicrobial drugs. Concentrations of heavy metals (/kg dry matter) were 0.08-5.30 mg cadmium, 1.1-32.0 mg chrome, 22.4-3387.6 mg copper, <2.0-26.7 mg lead, <0.01-0.11 mg mercury, 3.1-97.3 mg nickel and 93.0-8239.0 mg zinc. Associated with the detection of copper and zinc, resistance rates against β-lactams were significantly elevated. By contrast, the presence of mercury was significantly associated with low antimicrobial resistance rates of Escherichia coli against β-lactams, aminoglycosides and other antibiotics. Effects of subinhibitory concentrations of mercury on bacterial resistance against penicillins, cephalosporins, aminoglycosides and doxycycline were also demonstrated in a laboratory trial. Antimicrobial resistance in the porcine microflora might be increased by copper and zinc. By contrast, the occurrence of mercury in the environment might, due to co-toxicity, act counter-selective against antimicrobial resistant strains.