Xenopus laevis were exposed to 0-855 ??g cadmium (Cd)/l (measured concentrations) in FETAX medium from fertilization to 47 days postfertilization. Measurements included embryonic survival and, at 47 days, tadpole survival, snout-vent length, tail length, total length, hindlimb length, weight, Nieuwkoop-Faber (NF) stage of development, initiation of metamorphic climax (??? NF 58), and thyroid follicle cell height. Embryonic and larval survival were unaffected by Cd. Relative to control tadpoles, reduced tail and total length were observed at 0.1- 8 and at 855 ??g Cd/l; and reduced snout-vent length, hindlimb length, and weight were observed at 0.1-1 and at 855 ??g Cd/l. Mean stage of development and rate of initiation of climax were unaffected by Cd at 0-84 ??g/l; however, none of the tadpoles exposed to 855 ??g Cd/l progressed beyond mid-premetamorphosis (NF 51). Thyroid glands with fully formed follicles were observed in all tadpoles ??? NF 49 examined. Follicle cell height was unaffected by Cd at 0-84 ??g/l but it was reduced at 855 ??g/l; in the latter, cell height was reduced even when compared with NF 49-51 tadpoles pooled from the 0 to 84 ??g Cd/l groups. In conclusion, (1) Cd affected tadpole growth in a bimodal pattern with the first and second inhibitory modes at concentrations below and above 84 ??g Cd/l, respectively; (2) exposure to high Cd concentrations (855 ??g/l) reduced thyroid activity and arrested tadpole development at mid-premetamorphosis; and (3) unlike its effect on growth, Cd inhibited tadpole development and thyroid function in a seemingly monotonic pattern.