Relationships between Se and Hg in erythrocytes, and between these indices and intakes of fish and other foods, were studied as an adjunct to the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) of young people aged 4–18 years. Hg was measured in 965 packed erythrocyte samples by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Fe measurements permitted the calculation of whole-blood Hg. Erythrocyte and plasma Se, and 7d weighed dietary intake estimates, were available. Erythrocyte Hg was positively skewed, normalised by log-transformation. It was 20% higher in girls than boys (3·17 v. 2·65nmo/, P=0·004), and increased with age in boys but not girls. It was directly and strongly correlated with erythrocyte or plasma Se. Hg and Se concentrations were directly correlated with fish intake. Certain other food groups were also directly correlated with Se and Hg concentrations, but less strongly than for fish. The strength and consistency of the relationship between erythrocyte Hg and Se suggests an important chemical link. Previous studies suggest that Se protects against the toxicity of Hg, and that fish is an important source of both. No toxic levels of Hg were found, which is reassuring because of the known health benefits of fish consumption, especially oily fish. Hg intakes need to be monitored, especially in women of child-bearing age, to ensure that Food Standards Agency guidelines are met.