Assimilation efficiencies (AE) of five trace elements (Am, Cd, Co, Se, and Zn) and carbon by neritic copepods (Acartia tonsa and Temora longicornis) feeding at different food concentrations and on different food types (diatoms, green algae, flagellates, dinoflagellates, and Fe oxides) were measured with radiotracer techniques. Food concentration had little influence on AEs of C, Cd, Co, and Se within a range of 16-800 ?? C liter-1. AEs of Am and Zn were highest at low food concentrations (16-56 ??g C liter-1) but remained relatively constant when food levels exceeded 160 ??g C liter-1. Different algal diets had no major influence on AEs, which generally were in the order Cd > Se > Zn > Co > Am. Metals (Cd, Co, and Zn) were assimilated from Fe oxides with 50% less efficiency than from algal cells. Element regeneration into the dissolved phase was a significant route for the release of ingested elements by copepods and increased with increased food concentration. Element regeneration rates for Cd, Se, and Zn were comparable to the regeneration rates of major nutrients such as P (30-70% daily). Retention half-times of elements in decomposing fecal pellets ranged from < 1 d (Cd) to > 10 d (Am). The efficient assimilation and regeneration of Cd, Se, and Zn can significantly lengthen the residence time of these elements in ocean surface waters.