This study used light and electron microscopy to provide observations and morphometric details of the life-cycle of the gymnophallids (Trematoda, Digenea), Parvatrema margaritense (Ching, 1982) n. comb., the parthenogenetic metacercariae (‘germinal sacs’) of which were previously described by Ching (1982) as Cercaria margaritensis. The research was instigated by the discovery, on the Barents Sea coast, of a high prevalence of gymnophallid sporocysts and cercariae in the bivalve Turtonia minuta and an equivalent presence of distinctive gymnophallid metacercariae in the gastropod Margarites helicinus. Experiments and data obtained from naturally infected M. helicinus demonstrated that cercariae released from the bivalves invaded the gastropods to give rise to the metacercariae. Two generations (M1 and M2) of these parthenogenetic metacercariae were formed in the extrapallial cavities of their bivalve hosts and they, in turn, gave rise to a third generation (M3) which was shown to infect marine ducks such as the eider (Somateria mollissima). As only small numbers of cercariae are released from T. minuta, it was concluded that the inclusion of parthenogenetic metacercariae in the life-cycle is particularly significant. It allows each cercaria that infects M. helicinus to give rise to over 2000 invasive metacercariae. Evidence suggests that the parthenogenetic metacercariae are commensal rather that parasitic in the pallial cavities of their hosts. Implications of this for theories of early digenean evolution are discussed.