Previous study has shown that photoperiod and age affect tissue accumulation of cadmium (Cd) in a small rodent, the bank vole. Since the body mass is also influenced by these factors, the present study was designed to determine whether mass-specific daily metabolic rate might be responsible for differential accumulation of Cd in the liver and kidneys of the short- and long-photoperiod bank voles as well as of the young and old animals. One- and five-month old male bank voles were held under short (8 h light/16 h dark) or long (16 h light/8 h dark) photoperiods and exposed to dietary Cd (100 microg/g) for 6 weeks. The bank voles raised under the short photoperiod and those injected subcutaneously with melatonin (7 micromol/kg/day) under the long photoperiod showed significantly higher concentrations of Cd in the liver (43-60%) and kidneys (40-47%) than the age-matched long-photoperiod animals. The old bank voles accumulated significantly less Cd in both organs than the young animals. These differences in Cd accumulation appeared not to be associated with the relative Cd intake. However, the hepatic and renal Cd levels followed a pattern similar to that of the mass-specific daily metabolic rate (or energy expenditure) and energy assimilation efficiency. These data indicate that mass-specific daily metabolic rate and energy assimilation efficiency (an indicative of digestive and absorptive processes) may be responsible for differential tissue Cd accumulation in the bank vole.