The effect of dosing a metal limited anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor with a metal pulse on the methanogenic activity of granular sludge has thus far not been successfully modeled. The prediction of this effect is crucial in order to optimize the strategy for metal dosage and to prevent unnecessary losses of resources. This paper describes the relation between the initial immobilization of cobalt in anaerobic granular sludge cobalt dosage into the reactor and the evolution of methanogenic activity during the subsequent weeks. An operationally defined parameter (A0· B0) was found to combine the amount of cobalt immobilized instantaneously upon the pulse (B0) and the amount of cobalt immobilized within the subsequent 24. h (A0). In contrast with the individual parameters A0 and B0, the parameter A0· B0 correlated significantly with the methanogenic activity of the sludge during the subsequent 16 or 35. days. This correlation between metal retention and activity evolution is a useful tool to implement trace metal dosing strategies for biofilm-based biotechnological processes. © 2010.