The heavy metal cadmium (Cd) is an environmental toxin that causes specific problems in liver, kidney, bone and reproductive tissue. It is thought to act as both carcinogen and co-carcinogen, and it causes developmental anomalies in a number of animal species. Numerous mechanisms are thought to underlie these toxic and teratogenic effects, including genotoxicity, oxidative stress and caspase activation. One of the most remarkable observed histological effects of Cd, however, is breakdown of intercellular junctions, with consequent alteration of cell morphology and apoptosis. Therefore, in this review, the effects of Cd on cellular adhesion are examined, and possible effects on embryological development and clinical disease are discussed.