We determined the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations of 40 male and 40 female adult sea lampreys Petromyzon marinus captured in the Cheboygan River, a tributary to Lake Huron, during May 2011. In addition, we performed a laboratory experiment using passive integrated transponder tags to determine whether male adult sea lampreys were more active than female adult sea lampreys. Sex had a significant effect on PCB concentration, and PCB concentration at a given level of sea lamprey condition was approximately 25 % greater in males than in females. Adjusting for the difference in condition between the sexes, males averaged a 17 % greater PCB concentration compared with females. Results from the laboratory experiment indicated that males were significantly more active than females. The observed sex difference in PCB concentrations was not due to female sea lampreys releasing eggs at spawning because the sea lamprey is semelparous, and we caught the sea lampreys before spawning. Rather, we attributed the sex difference in PCB concentrations to a greater rate of energy expenditure in males compared with females. We proposed that this greater rate of energy expenditure was likely due to greater activity. Our laboratory experiment results supported this hypothesis. A greater resting metabolic rate may also have contributed to a greater rate of energy expenditure. Our findings should eventually be applicable toward improving control of sea lamprey, a pest responsible for considerable damage to fisheries in lakes where it is not native.