Aims: To study the impact of fungal bioremediation of phenanthrene on trace cadmium solid-solution fluxes and solution phase concentration. Methods and Results: The bioremediation of phenanthrene in soils was performed using the fungus Penicillium frequentans. Metal behaviour was evaluated by the techniques of diffusive gradient in thin-films (DGT) and filtration. Fluxes of cadmium (Cd) show a significant (P < 0.002) increase after the start of bioremediation, indicating that the bioremediation process itself releases significant amount of Cd into solution from the soil solid-phase. Unlike DGT devices, the solution concentration from filtration shows a clear bimodal distribution. We postulate that the initial action of the fungi is most likely to breakdown the surface of the solid phase to smaller, 'solution-phase' material (<0.45 μm) leading to a peak in Cd concentration in solution. Conclusions: Phenanthrene removal from soils by bioremediation ironically results in the mobilization of another toxic pollutant (Cd). Significance and Impact of the Study: Bioremediation of organic pollutants in contaminated soil will likely lead to large increases in the mobilization of toxic metals, increasing metal bio-uptake and incorporation into the wider food chain. Bioremediation strategies need to account for this behaviour and further research is required both to understand the generality of this behaviour and the operative mechanisms. © 2006 The Society for Applied Microbiology.