It has become increasingly apparent that diet can be a major source of trace metal bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms. In this study, we examined cadmium uptake, efflux, and subcellular compartmentalization dynamics in the freshwater oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus. L. variegatus is an important component of freshwater food webs in Europe and North America and is potentially useful as a standard food source for laboratory-based trophic transfer studies. Cadmium accumulation and depuration were each followed for 10 days. Rate constants of uptake (ku) and efflux (ke) were estimated and subcellular Cd compartmentalization was followed over the course of uptake and efflux. The partitioning of Cd into operationally-defined subcellular compartments was relatively consistent throughout the 20-day experiment, with the majority of Cd accumulating in the cytosol. No major changes in Cd compartmentalization were observed over uptake or depuration, but there appeared to be some exchange between heat-stable and heat-labile cytosolic protein fractions. Cadmium accumulation from solution was strongly affected by ambient calcium concentrations, suggesting competition between Cd and Ca for uptake sites. Finally, we demonstrate the ability to manipulate the whole body calcium content of L. variegatus as a potential tool for examining calcium influences on dietary Cd dynamics. The potential for this species to be an important conduit of Cd to higher trophic levels is discussed, along with its potential as a standardized food source in metal trophic transfer studies. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.