An increasing number of papers concentrate on the availability and uptake of platinum group elements (PGE) by different organisms. These metals are discharged into the environment from different anthropogenic sources, such as automobile catalytic converters, hospitals and other medical institutions. As the effects of these precious metals on organisms remain unclear, the induction of heat shock proteins (hsp70) in zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) following exposure to soluble salts of platinum, palladium and rhodium was compared with the hsp70 induction in mussels following exposure to cadmium and lead. Mussels were sampled weekly during a period of 10 weeks and analyzed for their metal concentration and their hsp70 level. Highest metal uptake was found for Cd, followed by Pt, Pb and Pd. Rh demonstrated the lowest uptake rate. A clear time-dependent increase of hsp70 levels occurred in all exposed mussels. Concentrations of hsp70 started to rise between days 18 and 25, except for the Pt-exposed group, where the initial increase was between days 25 and 32. All groups reached maximal hsp70 concentrations at day 39. Subsequently, hsp70 levels decreased to initial levels for the remaining exposure period. Threshold metal levels for the hsp70 induction varied among the metals and increased in the order: Rh < Pd ≤ Pb < Pt < Cd. Highest hsp70 values were found for mussels exposed to Pd, with a 25-fold higher level than in the controls, followed by Pt- and Rh-exposed mussels, which showed a 19-fold increase. The hsp70 levels of the mussels exposed to Cd and Pb were much lower, showing 6- and 12-fold higher values than the control, respectively. The clear induction of hsp70 due to exposure to Pt, Pd and Rh gives evidence for strong cellular effects of these metals, especially, when compared with lead and cadmium. Among the metals tested, Pd seems to have the highest potential as inducer for hsp70 production due to its low threshold level in combination with the strongest effect.