This study demonstrates the potential of high pressure (HP) processing to reduce viral contamination in shellfish. Bovine enterovirus, which is structurally similar to hepatitis A virus, was more pressure-resistant than feline calicivirus, a surrogate for norovirus. Both viruses were more pressure-resistant when treated in "naturally" contaminated mussels and oysters, compared to seawater and culture medium, suggesting that the medium can have a significant protective effect against HP treatment. Treatment at pressures of 250 MPa showed only a limited inactivation of either virus in shellfish, suggesting that relatively mild HP treatments (approximately 260 MPa) currently used for the commercial processing of oysters, principally to assist the shucking process, may be insufficient to ensure the safety of shellfish for human consumption, particularly in relation to human pathogenic viruses. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved..