The serum of vertebrates including human gives sufficient data about the current health status of organism in concern. Biomarkers have gained importance in evaluation of data from biological monitoring studies. In this study, freshwater fish Oreochrornis niloticus were individually exposed Cd or Pb using acute (10 mu M, 2 d) and chronic (20 mu M, 20 d) exposure protocols to investigate the alterations in serum parameters (ALP, ALT, AST, LDH, lipase, glucose, protein, cholesterol and triglyceride) and response of the endocrine system functioning in different axis, namely HP! (cortisol), HPT (TSH, T3, T4), gonadal (LH, FSH) and prolactin. Data showed that except LH, the levels of all hormones decreased significantly following exposure to Cd and Pb both in acute and chronic exposures. In acute exposures, the activity of ALP and levels of cholesterol and triglyceride decreased significantly following both Cd and Pb exposures, while glucose levels increased only after Cd exposure. In chronic exposures, both metal exposures caused significant decreases in ALP activity and levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, though there were increases in glucose level after Cd exposure and AST, ALT and LDH levels after Pb exposure. Data emphasized the importance of biomarker selection and multiparameter usage of relevant systems in ecotoxicological research to achieve proper evaluation of environmental data. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.