1. The effects of sublethal concentrations of organic and inorganic pollutants on intracellular energy-rich phosphates in blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, were investigated by in vivo 31P-NMR. 2. Formaldehyde (30 and 10 mg/l), phenol, pyridine, mercury and cadmium gave marked reductions in phosphoarginine and, in some cases, the ATP amounts. The reduction in high-energy phosphate was accompanied by an increase in inorganic phosphate in all groups. 3. A "phosphorus index", the product of the ratios between phosphoarginine and inorganic phosphate, and ATP and inorganic phosphate, is suggested, which might serve as an early warning ("alarm") parameter in environmental monitoring. 4. Diversity in the responses to different pollutants make phosphorus compounds in M. edulis also an interesting element in a finger print parameter system designed to distinguish between pollutants in the marine environment.