The use of the marine gastropod, Cellana tramoserica, as a biomonitor of metal exposure was investigated. The factors influencing metal concentrations, such as mass, gender, substrate, shoreline position and temporal variation were examined. Tissue metal concentrations were mostly found to be independent of mass and gender. When metal concentrations were significantly correlated with mass, correlations were low and explained little variability. The underlying substrate and position in the littoral zone had only a small influence on metal concentrations. Variation between individuals, inherent variability due to genetic variability, was the most significant contribution to the overall variation in metal concentrations, resulting in positive skewing of population distributions. The mean metal concentrations varied temporally; metal masses were relatively constant with fluctuations in metal concentrations related to fluctuations in metal body burdens. The populations from a metal-contaminated site had significantly higher tissue Cu, Zn, As and Pb concentrations than the populations from relatively uncontaminated locations. C. tramoserica therefore can be considered to be a net accumulator of metals. A sample number of >10 is required to detect changes of 25 % from the mean concentrations at uncontaminated locations. This species meets the requirements of a suitable biomonitor for metal contaminants in the environment i.e. hardy, sessile, widespread, sufficient tissue mass and a metal accumulator. As the measurement of metal concentrations in C. tramesoria were influenced by substrate and shore position and, sometimes, mass, sites with similar substrates and organisms of similar mass and shoreline position should be chosen for comparison. When comparing metal concentrations in gastropods from different locations, they should be collected over the same period to minimise variability due to mass differences, spawning and other seasonal/temporal effects.