Plants from metalliferous soils often exhibit combined tolerance to different heavy metals. Such tolerance could rely either on the possession of a combination of different metal-specific tolerance mechanisms (‘multiple tolerance’), or on less specific mechanisms that pleiotropically confer tolerance to different metals (‘co-tolerance’). In this study, we examined the co-segregation of tolerances to Cu, Zn, Ni, Co and Cd in crosses between distinctly tolerant ecotypes of Silene vulgaris (Moench) Garcke. The results demonstrate non-pleiotropic genetic control of tolerance to Cu, Zn and Cd. Tolerance to Ni and Co, on the other hand, seems to represent the pleiotropic byproduct of the tolerance allele of one particular locus for zinc tolerance.