The effects of cadmium and copper on activity of common carp head kidney hematopoietic tissue were evaluated. The fish were subjected to short-term (3 h, Cd-s and Cu-s) or long-term (4 weeks, Cd-l and Cu-l) exposures to 100 % 96hLC 50 or 10 % 96hLC 50, respectively. Head kidneys were isolated weekly from 5 fish of each group for 4 weeks (post-short-term exposure and during long-term exposure). Percentage of early blast cells among the hematopoietic precursors was calculated. Proliferative and apoptotic activity were evaluated using immunocytochemical staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and caspase 3, respectively. Hematopoietic activity was calculated as the ratio of proliferating to apoptotic cells. All metal exposures induced an increase in frequency of early blast cells. The frequency of proliferating (PCNA-positive) cells also significantly increased. A considerable and significant increase in the frequency of apoptotic cells was the most pronounced effect of metal exposures. Both short-term and long-term treatments caused similar effects, but in case of Cd exposures, the reaction was more pronounced. All metal exposures reduced hematopoietic potential of fish measured as the ratio of proliferating to apoptotic precursor cell frequency. However, in all cases, hematopoietic activity was higher than 1 showing that the rate of repair of hematopoietic tissue prevailed over destruction.