Uptake and retranslocation of leaf-applied radiolabeled cadmium (109Cd) was studied in three diploid (Triticum monococcum, AA), four tetraploid (Triticum turgidum, BBAA) and two hexaploid (Triticum aestivum, BBAADD) wheat genotypes grown for 9 d under controlled environmental conditions in nutrient solution. Among the tetraploid wheats, two genotypes were primitive (ssp. dicoccum) and two genotypes modern wheats (ssp. durum). Radiolabelled Cd was applied by immersing the tips (3 cm) of mature leaf into a 109Cd radiolabelled solution. There was a substantial variation in the uptake and export of 109Cd among and within wheat species. On average, diploid wheats (AA) absorbed and translocated more 109Cd than other wheats. The largest variation in 109Cd uptake was found within tetraploid wheats (BBAA). Primitive tetraploid wheats (ssp. dicoccum) had a greater uptake capacity for 109Cd than modern tetraploid wheats (ssp. durum). In all wheats studied, the amount of the 109Cd exported from the treated leaf into the roots and the remainder of the shoots was poorly related to the total absorption. For example, bread wheat cultivars were more or less similar in total absorption, but differed greatly in the amount of 109Cd retranslocated. The diploid wheat genotype 'FAL-43' absorbed the lowest amount of 109Cd, but retranslocated the greatest amount of 109Cd in roots and remainder of shoots. The results indicate the existence of substantial genotypic variation in the uptake and retranslocation of leaf-applied 109Cd. This variation is discussed in terms of potential genotypic differences in binding of Cd to cell walls and the composition of phloem sap ligands possibly affecting Cd transport into sink organs.