During one to three consecutive periods of 2 weeks, broiler chickens (n = 108) received test diets to which different amounts of PCBs (7 congeners) were added. The relationship between exposure time and accumulation of individual congeners in different chicken tissues, such as breast, thigh and abdominal fat tissue, was observed. In all tissues, the vast majority of the PCB accumulation occurred during the first 2 weeks of exposure. After that, PCB concentrations only increased in the abdominal fat tissue of the animals. The individual PCBs were distributed differently in the various tissues. While CBs 28, 118, 138, 153 and 180 accumulated in the chickens, CBs 52 and 101 were metabolized, but no methyl sulphone metabolites of these congeners could be detected. Our results provide information on the absorption, tissue distribution and biotransformation of the individual PCB congeners and confirm the structure-activity relationships for metabolism of PCBs in birds, which are different from those in fish or mammalian species. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.