The heavy metals in mosses survey was originally established in 1980 as a joint Danish-Swedish initiative under the leadership of Angstromke Ruhling, Sweden and has, since then, been repeated at five-yearly intervals with an increasing number of countries and individuals participating. Twenty-eight European countries, almost 7000 sites and about 100 individuals have been involved in the most recent survey in 2000/2001. The survey provides data on concentrations of 10 heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium, zinc) in naturally growing mosses throughout Europe. The technique of moss analysis provides a surrogate measure of the spatial patterns of heavy metal deposition from the atmosphere to terrestrial systems, and is easier and cheaper than conventional precipitation analysis. The aims of the survey are to determine patterns of variation in the heavy metal concentration of mosses across Europe, identify the main polluted areas, produce regional maps and further develop the understanding of long-range transboundary pollution. As in previous surveys, there was an east/west decrease in heavy metal concentrations in mosses, related in particular to industrial emissions. Former industrial sites and historic mines accounted for the location of some high concentrations in areas without contemporary industries. Long-range transboundary transport appears to account for elevated concentrations of heavy metals in areas without emission sources, such as lead in southern Scandinavia (presumably from emission sources elsewhere in Europe).