Abstract Cadmium (Cd) is a widespread non-essential heavy metal that enters the aquatic environment as a result of natural and human-caused activities, including industrial effluent, mining, and agricultural runoff. In the present study, we investigated time and dose-related effect of CdCl 2 on metallothionein (MT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) mRNA levels in a number of goldfish tissues, in vivo. Basal MT and GPX mRNA levels remained unchanged in the tissues tested throughout the experiment. Injection with CdCl 2 significantly increased MT mRNA levels in the brain, liver, kidney and intestine in a dose-dependant manner at all time tested (6, 12, 24 and 36 h). We isolated the full length GPX cDNA from goldfish kidneys, and found it to contain 785 nucleotides, including an open reading frame, predicted to encode a protein of 142 amino acids. In contrast, injection with CdCl 2 significantly decreased GPX mRNA levels in the liver and kidney in a time-, and dose-, dependant, and became undetectable after 12, 24 and 36 h. The findings provide molecular characterization of MT and GPX in goldfish and suggest that exposure to Cd results in significant physiological changes in goldfish.