Heavy metal (lead, cadmium. and zinc) concentrations were found in increase with traffic volume in soil, vegetation. earthworms. and small mammals recovered from roadside areas. Concentrations of all elements generally declined in soil, vegetation. and earthworms as distance from the highway increased. Shrews had higher levels of heavy metals than plant consuming rodents (Micro/us and Peromyscus). Problems of interpreting data on road side contamination and of the ecological significance of such contamination are discussed.