Mussels, Mytilus edulis, were exposed for periods of 6 weeks at various locations in Dutch coastal waters during 1989 and 1990. “Survival in air” showed to be a sensitive response parameter for indicating pollution induced environmental stress in transplanted mussels sampled from eight field sites. Increased tissue contaminant levels, especially PCBs and PAHs, correlated with a reduced survival time during aerial exposure. Three weeks exposure of mussels in the laboratory to 1 μg · 1−1 PCBs affected the aerial survival time negatively. Laboratory experiments did not indicate that lowered salinity influences the “Survival in air” response after sufficient acclimation (15 days), facilitating the use of this response parameter in both marine and estuarine waters.