Although considered as essential cofactors for a variety of enzymatic reactions and for important structural and functional roles in cell metabolism, metals at high concentrations are potent toxic pollutants and pose complex biochemical problems for cells. We report results of single dose acute toxicity testing in the model organism S. cerevisiae. The effects of moderate toxic concentrations of 10 different human health relevant metals, Ag(+), Al(3+), As(3+), Cd(2+), Co(2+), Hg(2+), Mn(2+), Ni(2+), V(3+), and Zn(2+), following short-term exposure were analyzed by transcription profiling to provide the identification of early-on target genes or pathways. In contrast to common acute toxicity tests where defined endpoints are monitored we focused on the entire genomic response. We provide evidence that the induction of central elements of the oxidative stress response by the majority of investigated metals is the basic detoxification process against short-term metal exposure. General detoxification mechanisms also comprised the induction of genes coding for chaperones and those for chelation of metal ions via siderophores and amino acids. Hierarchical clustering, transcription factor analyses, and gene ontology data further revealed activation of genes involved in metal-specific protein catabolism along with repression of growth-related processes such as protein synthesis. Metal ion group specific differences in the expression responses with shared transcriptional regulators for both, up-regulation and repression were also observed. Additionally, some processes unique for individual metals were evident as well. In view of current concerns regarding environmental pollution our results may support ongoing attempts to develop methods to monitor potentially hazardous areas or liquids and to establish standardized tests using suitable eukaryotic a model organism.