The main factors contributing to variation in metal concentrations in earthworms inhabiting floodplain soils were investigated in three floodplains differing in inundation frequency and vegetation type. Metal concentrations in epigeic earthworms showed larger seasonal variations than endogeic earthworms. Variation in internal levels between sampling intervals were largest in earthworms from floodplain sites frequently inundated. High and low frequency flooding did not result in consistent changes in internal metal concentrations. Vegetation types of the floodplains did not affect metal levels in Lumbricus rubellus, except for internal Cd levels, which were positively related to the presence of organic litter. Internal levels of most essential metals were higher in spring. In general, no clear patterns in metal uptake were found and repetition of the sampling campaign will probably yield different results. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.