This experimental study assessed the role of the microhabitat in the uptake of metals by adult acanthocephalans. We examined the accumulation of lead by adult Pomphorhynchus laevis in the intestine of chub (Leuciscus cephalus) and compared it with that in goldfish, Carassius auratus auratus, in which the parasites penetrate the intestinal wall and enter the body cavity. Chub and goldfish experimentally infected with adult Pomphorhynchus laevis were exposed to 0.01 mg l−1 Pb2+ over 3 weeks. Lead was rapidly accumulated in the intestinal acanthocephalans reaching a mean concentration of 7.3 μg g−1. This concentration was significantly greater than in the host muscle, liver and intestine and more than 730 times higher than the exposure concentration. Intraperitoneal P. laevis in goldfish exposed to lead did not accumulate the metal. Thus, it was conclusively shown that metal accumulation in acanthocephalans is associated with the intestinal location and does not occur in the body cavity.