A recombinant metallothionein CgMT1, from the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas, was synthesized and used as antigen in the development of antibodies and a specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The ELISA showed that rabbit anti-CgMT1 IgG reacted with purified CgMT1 and MTs from other marine bivalves, indicating its suitability as a reagent to quantify MTs and for monitoring of metal contamination in field animals. Application of this assay to tissues excised from metal exposed C. gigas, showed that MT induction reached a saturation level in gills that was not observed in digestive gland. Quantification of MTs in gills and digestive gland of field-collected C. gigas showed that the MT level depended on the metal concentrations at the collection sites and may have been influenced by salinity variations at estuarine sites. Oysters from metal-contaminated estuarine sites showed lower MT concentrations than those from nonestuarine contaminated sites.