The glutathione metabolism contains crucial antioxidant molecules to defend the organisms against oxidants. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the response of the glutathione metabolism in the liver of freshwater fish Oreochromis niloticus exposed to metals (Cu, Cd, Cr, Pb, Zn) in different periods. Fish were exposed to metals (as 1 mu g/mL) individually for 1, 7, and 14 days and subsequently antioxidant enzymes (glutathione peroxidase, GPX; glutathione reductase, GR and glutathione S-transferase, GST) and glutathione levels (total glutathione, tGSH; reduced glutathione, rGSH; oxidized glutathione, GSSG and GSH/GSSG ratios) in the liver were measured. There was no fish mortality during the experiments, except Cu exposure. The antioxidant enzymes responded differently to metal exposures depending on metal types and exposure durations. GPX activity increased only after Cd exposure, while GST activity increased following 7 days of all metal exposures. However, GR activity did not alter in most cases. Total GSH and GSH/GSSG levels generally decreased, especially after 7 days. Data showed that metal exposures significantly altered the response of antioxidant system parameters, particularly at day 7 and some recovery occurred after 14 days. This study suggests that the response of antioxidant system could help to predict metal toxicity in the aquatic environments and be useful as an "early warning tool" in natural monitoring studies.