[en] The effect of chronic exposure to a low concentration (0.5 microg l(-1)) of cadmium ions was investigated on escape behaviour of sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, using video analysis. Observations were also performed on the microanatomy of lateral system neuromasts. When fish were exposed for 4h per day over 8 days to the cadmium ions, most of both types of neuromasts observed remained intact. However, some of them presented damaged sensory maculae. Whereas before cadmium exposure, fish responded positively to nearly all the lateral system stimulations, after exposure they decreased by about 10% their positive responses to stimulations. From the 15th day after the beginning of cadmium exposure, neuromasts presented progressively less damage, cadmium accumulation in gills and scales decreased significantly and fish escape behaviour had recovered. This study presents a new concept in ecotoxicology: using behavioural change to reveal the effects of pollution levels, scarcely detectable by currently used techniques (physiological responses).