Abstract Daphnia schodleri is a naturally occurring cladoceran in Mexican freshwater bodies and its relative big size and short life cycle allow its use in toxicological bioassays. Generally, life stages at opposite sides of a normal distribution are considered to be the most susceptible and/or sensitive because of several sub-individual level processes, such as ageing, in which antioxidant activity decreases and reactive oxygen species (ROS) cannot be totally neutralized. Most aquatic populations are structured by organisms of different ages, in which physiological and biochemical responses differ (in magnitude) from each other. According to these statements, seven age groups of D. schodleri (0, 3, 5, 7, 14, 21, and 28 d) were exposed to Cr (VI) in both acute and non-lethal bioassays. Results from acute bioassays were used to estimate the chromium LC 50 values for every age group, which ranged from 0.12 to 0.61 mg L −1, with a normal pattern distribution. Antioxidant enzymatic activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and glutathione reductase (GR) was assessed in organisms exposed to two sublethal Cr(VI) concentrations (0.032 and 0.0064 mg L −1). Results showed that neonates’ antioxidant activity increased with respect to their controls; nevertheless, the same pattern was not seen in the other age groups. Moreover, GPx activities followed a decreasing pattern with respect to their control groups in organisms 3-d and older. In addition, GR activities were barely modified by chromium exposure of neonates, but not in the other age groups; CAT was only modified in younger daphnids. Once the biomarker responses were normalized, it was possible to observe that enzyme participation differed during the life cycle of this cladoceran and, as a result of their decreasing antioxidant activity, relatively old organisms could have lower capability to deal with pro-oxidant toxicants such as Cr(VI).