Lead (Pb) has been regarded as a very toxic element that poses a serious threat to biota. A mesocosm experiment is performed to assess the influence of Pb on meiofaunal (metazoans within 45-500 µm) and benthic foraminiferal (protozoans) communities. To this end, sediments bearing such communities are incubated in mesocosms, exposed to different levels of Pb in seawater, and monitored for up to eight weeks. Concentrations of Pb below 1 ppm in water do not promote a significant increase of this metal in sediments. Relatively high concentrations of Pb seem to affect meiofaunal and benthic foraminiferal communities by reducing their richness or diversity, and the abundance of the most sensitive taxa. The mesocosm approach can be considered an effective method to document the responses of meiofaunal and benthic foraminiferal communities to various kinds and concentrations of pollutants over time. This approach allows the evaluation of dose-response relationships, validates the outcomes of field studies, and possibly confirms the sediment quality guidelines and thresholds. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.