Small-scale population densities of tidal creek eastern mudsnails, Ilyanassa obsoleta Say (studied in 1986 and in 1992 at West Meadow Creek, Stony Brook, New York) corresponded more to variation in water flow velocity than to surface sediment chlorophyll a. Higher densities were found at low flow sites. Short-term behavioral responses are likely to be responsible for density variation. Experiments using laboratory flumes and field observations both demonstrated that the snails responded to strong flow by burrowing into the substratum. Burrowing may prevent dislodgment from the sediment surface, but it also appears to be disadvantageous since burrowed mudsnails have smaller amounts of food in their guts. Snails released in sites of periodic high flow conditions moved greater distances and were soon found near the quiet-water periphery of the creek, whereas snails released at the quiet-water periphery moved far less. It is not clear whether movement from the high flow site was through crawling or through hydrodynamic transport. Laboratory flume experiments demonstrated an active crawling movement towards areas of lower current velocity. This evidence suggests that strong bottom flow in the creek center results in a combined response of burial to avoid dislodgment and a net movement towards quiet water, which reduces exposure to the high velocity conditions of the creek center.