Concentrations of As, Al, Ag, Ba, Bi, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ga, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sn, Sr, Tl, V and Zn were analyzed by inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) in the intestinal helminth Pomphorhynchus laevis and its host Barbus barbus. The fish were caught in the Danube river downstream of the city of Budapest (Hungary). Ten out of twenty one elements analyzed were found at higher concentrations in the acanthocephalan than in different tissues (muscle, intestine, liver and kidney) of barbel. Considering the fish tissues, most of the elements were present at highest concentrations in liver, followed by kidney, intestine and muscle. Spearman correlation analyses indicate that there is competition for metals between the parasites and the host. The negative relationships between parasite number and metal levels in organs of the barbel support this hypothesis. The bioconcentration factors for Ag, As, Ba, Bi, Cu, Ga, Mn, Pb, Sr, Tl, and Zn showed that the parasites concentrated metals to a higher degree than the fish tissues. They accumulated the metals As, Cd, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Sr and Zn even better than established bioindicators such as the mussel Dreissena polymorpha as revealed by data from the literature. The results presented here emphasize that acanthocephalans of fish are very useful as sentinels for metal pollution in aquatic ecosystems. Ratio of metal concentrations in the parasites and the host tissues provide additional information. Not including acanthocephalans in accumulation bioindication studies with fishes (as still customarily done) may lead to false results.