Accumulation and persistence of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in the mussel Mytilus chilensis was evaluated. Under optimal filtration activity of mussels (temperature 12°C, salinity 3%, feeding twice a day with Dunaliella marina), HAV was concentrated 100-fold from the surrounding water. Similar concentrations of HAV were reached in the filtration apparatus and in the digestive system (hepatopancreas). HAV persisted for about 7 days in mussels. Elimination of HAV from mussels was slower than elimination of poliovirus. Without feeding of mussels (causing low filtration activity), there was no measurable uptake of HAV into mussels, and depuration of HAV from mussels was slower. The ability of mussels to concentrate HAV was used successfully to monitor fecally contaminated river water for the presence of HAV. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.