The tolerance to Cd2+ and possible mechanisms of Cd2+ detoxification by 178 free-living bacteria isolated from sea water, associated with marine animals (a mussel Crenomytilus grayanus, a scallop Patinopecten yessoensis), and eelgrass Zostera marina collected in The Sea of Japan and The Sea of Okhotsk have been studied. The concentrations of 25 and 50 mg Cd2+/L were highly toxic and inhibited the growth from 54% to 78% of the total bacteria studied. The free-living bacteria isolated from seawater samples (up to 50%) were tolerant to high concentrations of cadmium. Marine gamma-proteobacteria tolerated Cd2+ by the activation of different detoxifying mechanisms. The strain Halomonas sp. KMM 734 isolated from seawater prevented the uptake of Cd2+ into bacterial cells. The chromosomal cadmium resistance system of Pseudoalteromonas citrea KMM 461 and Marinobacter sp. KMM 181 was found to be similar to class III metallothioneins (also known as phytochelatins).