In oysters Crassostrea gigas translocated from a metal-enriched estuary (Gironde, France) to a comparatively clean site, the Bay of Bourgneuf (France), Cd, Cu and Zn concentrations were determined monthly in the whole soft tissues, or in different fractions (cytosolic or insoluble) of gills and digestive glands. In all cases, the concentrations of all of the three metals decreased logarithmically and half-lives were always shortest for Cd (86-251 days). After 4 months, the Cd concentration had become not significantly different from the threshold considered safe for human consumption (1 mg kg(-1) wet wt.). In the digestive gland, half-lives were similar in cytosolic and insoluble fractions. In contrast, in the gills, elimination patterns differed markedly between these fractions. The long half-lives calculated for divalent metals in the insoluble fraction of the gills (1505 and 3010 days for Zn and Cu, respectively) is possibly due to a fossilization of metals in intracellular membrane-bound inclusions as shown previously in Ostrea edulis. It is interesting to underline that elimination is fastest for cytosolic metals compared to the insoluble fraction.