Cadmium in blood (Cd-B) and in urine (Cd-U) and metallothionein (Mt-U) and beta 2-microglobulin in urine (beta 2m-U) were measured in 94 male Cd workers. The results were examined according to the workers' current exposure to cadmium (group C, n = 73, workers currently exposed to Cd; group R, n = 21, Cd workers removed from exposure or retired) and according to their renal status (group N, n = 66, normal beta 2m-U; group I, n = 28, beta 2m-U greater than 200 micrograms/g creatinine). The interrelationships between Mt-U, Cd-U, Cd-B and years of cadmium exposure were examined in the various subgroups. The study of the correlations between these variables demonstrates that Mt-U is directly correlated with Cd-U but not with Cd-B or years of Cd exposure. The association between Cd-U and Mt-U is independent of the status of renal function and the intensity of current exposure to cadmium. Under moderate chronic exposure to cadmium, the fraction of Cd-U which is directly influenced by recent exposure (Cd-B) is small in comparison with that influenced by the cadmium body burden.