The effects of Pb(NO3)2, CuSO4 and CdCl2 on the germination and initial growth of Juncus acutus L. (Juncaceae) were studied. The metal content of the seedlings was also measured. The concentrations used were: Pb(NO3)2 from 0.97 to 3.90 x 10(-5) M, and CuSO4 or CdCl2 from 0.12 to 1.95 x 10(-5) M. Germination was not affected by any of the tested metals, whereas the initial growth was strongly inhibited by Pb(NO3)2 concentrations from 1.95 x 10(-5) M upwards, and by CuSO4 and CdCl2 concentrations from 0.12 x 10(-5) M. The root was affected more than the shoot and failed to develop at all the tested concentrations of CuSO4. J. acutus seedlings accumulated 55% to 98% of the metals present in the culture solution. The accumulation of cadmium in the seedlings was higher than that of lead and copper.