Ruderal plants can grow in polluted areas, but little is known about heavy metal accumulation and distribution in them. Here Ni and Zn accumulation, distribution and effects were investigated in Lepidium ruderale and Capsella bursa-pastoris grown at 5–30 µM Ni(NO₃)₂ or 10–80 µM Zn(NO₃)₂. Metal contents were measured by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry and tissue distribution of metals was studied histochemically. Ni was more toxic than Zn for both plants. When metal-induced growth-inhibiting effects were compared at various metal concentrations in solution, L. ruderale was more tolerant to Ni, whereas C. bursa-pastoris to Zn. However, when compared at similar Zn or Ni contents in roots, root growth of C. bursa-pastoris was more tolerant than that of L. ruderale. On the contrary, at similar Zn or Ni contents in shoots, shoot growth of L. ruderale was more tolerant. Both plants are excluders maintaining low metal levels in shoots. In roots, Ni located in protoplasts while Zn was also detected in cell walls. Metal accumulation in root apices resulted in growth inhibition. Ni accumulation in root cortex constrained metal translocation into central cylinder and then to shoots, where it located only in conductive tissues and epidermis, particularly in leaf trichomes of C. bursa-pastoris. Zn was translocated to shoots more actively and distributed in all shoot tissues, being accumulated in leaf vascular bundles and epidermis. To conclude, these patterns of Ni and Zn distribution are aimed at metal sequestration in roots and leaf epidermis, thus keeping mesophyll from metal penetration and pigment degradation.