Lead and cadmium enter the municipal solid waste stream as components of a variety of consumer products. Average empirical data from several resource recovery plants were analyzed to obtain an estimate of the source and fate of the subject elements. The total amounts of lead and cadmium found in municipal solid waste, determined from empirical data sources, were found to agree closely with those based on materials flow data. It was determined that most of the cadmium enters the waste stream in the combustible fraction and can account for a major share of the cadmium observed in fly ash and in atmospheric particulates. The most likely sources of cadmium are plastics and pigments. The lead emissions appeared to be derived from both combustible and noncombustible discards of batteries, plastics, and pigments. The data suggests that it would be useful to perform mass balance studies to provide primary data for the determination of the most effective methods for managing discards containing lead and cadmium. The purpose of the suggested research is the reduction of lead and cadmium emissions into the environment from resource recovery plants.