This study investigated the internal osmotic regulatory capabilities of the Manila clam (Ruditapes philippinarum) following in vivo exposure to a range of salinities. A second objective was to measure the health status of the Manila clam following exposure to different salinities using the neutral red retention (NRR) assay, and to compare results using a range of physiological saline solutions (PSS). On exposure to seawater of differing salinities, the Manila clam followed a pattern of an osmoconformer, although they seemed to partially regulate their circulatory haemolytic fluids to be hyperosmotic to the surrounding aqueous environment. Significant differences were found when different PSS were used, emphasizing the importance of using a suitable PSS to reduce additional osmotic stress. Using PSS in the NRR assay that do not exert additional damage to lysosomal membrane integrity will help to more accurately quantify the effects of exposure to pollutants on the organism(s) under investigation. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.