Accumulation of cadmium (Cd) in crops impairs human and animal health as well as inhibits root and shoot growth affecting nutrient uptake and homeostasis. The effects of increasing Cd and zinc (Zn) applications on shoot dry weight and shoot concentrations of Cd and Zn were studied in durum (Kiziltan) and bread (Bezostaja) wheat cultivars. Plants were grown under greenhouse conditions in Zn-deficient calcareous soil, and treated with increasing Cd (0, 2.5 and 10 mg kg(-1) soil) and Zn (0 and 5 mg kg(-1) soil). Necrotic patches appeared at high Cd doses on the base and sheath parts of the oldest leaves of both wheat cultivars, but symptoms were more severe in durum wheat and under Zn deficiency. Shoot growth was significantly (P<0.01) reduced in durum wheat at high Cd (10 mg kg(-1)) treatment. The results showed that durum wheat was more sensitive to both Zn deficiency and Cd toxicity as compared to bread wheat. Cd concentrations in shoots ranged from 0.09 to 0.50 mg kg(-1), and Cd application significantly (P<0.01) increased its level in shoots of durum and bread wheat. Zinc treatment was alleviating Cd toxicity decreasing Cd concentrations in durum and bread wheat cultivars. Cadmium accumulation in durum wheat is a growing concern due to the accumulation of higher Cd in shoots compared with bread wheat. The results indicated the greater sensitivity of durum wheat to decline in yield and accumulation of Cd, especially under Zn deficient and Cd toxic conditions.