Sublethal physiological effects and metal residue accumulation in tissues were measured in adult and juvenile rainbow trout fed a metal-contaminated diet and/or exposed to waterborne metals for 21 d. The consumption of metal-contaminated invertebrates from the Clark Fork River, Montana, significantly affected scale loss and metal accumulation in gut tissue of adult trout. Survival, scale loss, and metal accumulation in gill and kidney tissue were affected by exposure to a waterborne mixture of Cd, Cu, and Pb at twice the acceptable levels and Zn at the maximum acceptable level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for protection of aquatic wildlife. A combination of dietary and waterborne metals also caused lipid peroxidation in the kidney of adult fish and decreased whole-body potassium of juvenile trout. In general, metal accumulation in tissues was higher in gill and kidney with waterborne exposures and was higher in stomach and pyloric caeca with dietary exposure. And metal concentrations in juvenile whole-body tissues accumulated significantly with a combination of waterborne and dietary metals. Although some physiological changes were noted (scale loss, lipid peroxidation of kidney), an exposure time longer than 21 d is probably needed to observe more extensive physiological changes. Regardless, results from this study suggest that a full assessment of metal exposure to fish populations in natural systems must include evaluation of dietary as well as waterborne metal contamination.