In vitro bioaccessibility tests (IVBA) are inexpensive, physiologically-based extraction tests designed to estimate the bioaccessibility of elements along ingestion exposure pathways. Published IVBA protocols call for the testing to be done on the <250-??m fraction of soil, as these particles are most likely to adhere to the hands of children and be ingested. Most IVBA in the literature to date have been applied to soil samples from highly contaminated sites or to spiked samples, and relatively little work has been done to evaluate bioaccessibility of elements in a wide variety of uncontaminated 'background' soils. In 2004, the US Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada sampled soils along north-south and east-west transects across the two countries to test and refine sampling and analytical protocols recommended for the planned soil geochemical survey of North America. Samples were collected at 220 sites selected randomly at approximately 40-km intervals. The focus of the investigation presented in this paper was twofold: (1) to begin to examine variations in bioaccessibility of As, Cd, Cr, Ni and Pb in a number of 'background' (i.e., unpolluted) soils from around North America and (2) to determine if there are significant differences that would preclude using the standard size fraction of <2 mm for extraction with a simulated gastric fluid as an expeditious and inexpensive bioaccessibility screening tool for the large numbers of future samples to be collected by this continental-scale project. A subset of 20 soil samples collected along the north-south transect at a depth of 0-5 cm was used for this study. Two separate size fractions (<2 mm and <250 ??m) were extracted using a simulated human gastric fluid consisting of a solution of HCl and glycine adjusted to a pH of 1.5. In general, the leachate results for the <2-mm size fraction were not substantially different than those for the <250-??m size fraction for concentrations of As, Cd, Cr, Ni and Pb. Leachate concentrations for Cd, Ni and Pb appear to be controlled to some extent by the total concentration of the element in soil. Bioaccessibility of the elements in this study decreased in the order, Cd > Pb > Ni > As > Cr.