This study investigated the effects of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), a widely used herbicide, on the metabolism of goldfish, Carassius auratus, using only vital (non-lethal) approaches. After 96 h exposure to 1, 10 or 100 mg/L of 2,4-D selected hematological (total hemoglobin and hematocrit) and biochemical (glucose content, aspartate transaminase and acetylcholinesterase activities) parameters were unchanged in blood of exposed fish. At 100 mg/L of 2,4-D lymphocyte numbers decreased by 8%, whereas promyelocyte and metamyelocyte numbers increased by 7- and 2-fold, respectively. Exposure to 100 mg/L of 2,4-D also elevated carbonyl protein levels (by 2-fold), triglyceride content (by 43%) and alanine transaminase activity (by 46%) in goldfish plasma. All of these hematological and biochemical parameters reverted to control values after a 96 h recovery period. These data indicate that 2,4-D has toxicological effects on goldfish that can be monitored with multiple diagnostic tests using non-lethal blood testing.