Currently, information identifying the importance of food and water in the trophic transfer of metals for most aquatic organisms is limited, yet such information is essential for modeling metal movement within food webs. Hyalella azteca is a suitable organism to study the trophic transfer of metals since they represent a major, but potentially vulnerable component of the food web of many lakes. Since studies involving the trophic transfer are limited, the objective of this research was to determine the relative importance of food and water sources of Pb and Cd to these animals.Hyalella azteca browses on the film of microscopic plants, animals and organic debris covering leaves, stems and other substrates. Hyalella azteca are epibenthic freshwater organisms that prefer foods high in protein. A major challenge of this study involved determining a substrate in which algae would grow and stay attached so Hyalella azteca could graze. Preliminary studies found that the diatom species, Navicula pelliculosa grew and adhered well to Teflon ® surfaces and that Hyalella azteca grazed the diatoms from the surface of Teflon ® . Thus, Navicula pelliculosa was grown in the presence of Pb and Cd concentrations and then fed to the organisms. No significant difference was found between organisms exposed to Pb and Cd from water and from water and food, indicating that Pb and Cd bioaccumulation from food is negligible when the dissolved inorganic fractions are buffered with ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA).The average log 10 bioconcentration factor (BCF) for Cd was calculated to be 5.25 from water exposure and 5.49 from water and foodexposure. The log 10 Hyalella BCF for Pb was calculated as 4.62 from water exposureand 4.59 from water and food exposure. From these results, it can be concludedthat a food source containing Pb and Cd concentrations of 15 nM Pb and 0.37nM Cd, had no noticeable effect on metal burdens to Hyalella azteca. Metaluptake by Hyalella azteca at the levels studied was found to be primarily fromthe dissolved phase.