Field-related influences on polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure were evaluated by employing caged deposit-feeders, Neanthes arenaceodentata, along with polyoxymethylene (POM) samplers using parallel in situ and ex situ bioassays with homogenized untreated or activated carbon (AC) amended sediment. The AC amendment achieved a remedial efficiency in reducing bioaccumulation by 90% in the laboratory and by 44% in the field transplants. In situ measurements showed that PCB uptake by POM samplers was greater for POM placed in the surface sediment compared with the underlying AC amendment, suggesting that tidal exchange of surrounding material with similar PCB availability as untreated sediment was redeposited in the cages. Polychlorinated biphenyls bioaccumulation with caged polychaetes from untreated sediment was half as large under field conditions compared with laboratory conditions. A biodynamic model was used to confirm and quantify the different processes that could have influenced these results. Three factors appeared most influential in the bioassays: AC amendment significantly reduces bioavailability under laboratory and field conditions; sediment deposition within test cages in the field partially masks the remedial benefit of underlying AC-amended sediment; and deposit-feeders exhibit less PCB uptake from untreated sediment when feeding is reduced. Ex situ and in situ experiments inevitably show some differences that are associated with measurement methods and effects of the environment. Parallel ex situ and in situ bioassays, passive sampler measurements, and quantifying important processes with a model can tease apart these field influences. ?? 2010 SETAC.