AbstractCytosolic profiles of several priority pollutant metals (Cu, Cd, Zn, Pb) and metalloid As were analyzed in the digestive gland of the mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) sampled at locations with different environmental pollution levels along the Croatian coast in the spring and summer season. Size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) connected to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was used to determine selected elements bound to cytosolic biomolecules separated based on their molecular size. Copper, cadmium and zinc eluted mostly associated with high molecular weight (HMW) and medium molecular weight (MMW) biomolecules, but with a more prominent elution in the MMW peak at polluted locations which were probably associated with the 20 kDa metallothionein (MT). Elution of all three metals within this peak was also strongly correlated with cytosolic Cd as strong inducer of MT. Lead mostly eluted in HMW biomolecule range, but in elevated cytosolic Pb concentrations, significant amount eluted in low molecular weight (LMW) biomolecules. Arsenic, on the other hand eluted almost completely in LMW range, but we could not distinguish specific molecular weight biomolecules which would be predominant in detoxification mechanism. Seasonal variability in element abundance within specific peaks was present, although not in the same extent, for all elements and locations, especially for As. The results confirm the suitability of the distribution of selected metals/metalloids among different cytosolic ligands as potential indicator for metal exposure. Obtained findings can also serve as guidelines for further separation and characterization of specific cytosolic metal-binding biomolecules.