The purpose of this study was to explore a possible relationship between the availability of metals in soil (Cd, Fe, Mn, Pb and Zn) and their concentrations in leaves of Vaccinium myrtillus L. as a species which has been reported to be a successful colonist of acid-and-heavy metal-contaminated soil. Analysis also concerned the antioxidant response of plants from three heavily polluted (immediate vicinity of: zinc smelter, iron smelter and power plant) and three relatively clean sites (nature reserve, ecological site and unprotected natural forest community) in southern Poland. The contents of glutathione, non-protein thiols, protein, proline and activity of guaiacol peroxidase in leaves of bilberry were measured. Generally, the concentrations of metals in the HNO3 and CaCl2 extracants of the soil from the polluted sites were higher. Moreover, the antioxidant responses were also elevated in bilberries in the polluted sites. Significant positive relationships between Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in soil and in the plants were found. In the leaves of V. myrtillus from the polluted sites, higher concentrations of Cd, Pb and Zn were noted (In Miasteczko Śląskie respectively 6.26, 157.09 and 207.17 mg kg(-1) d.w.). We found a positive correlation between the increase in the NPTs and protein contents as well as the Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in V. myrtillus. Cd, Pb and Zn also decreased guaiacol peroxidase activity. However, the activity of this enzyme increased under Fe. A decreasing trend in glutathione contents was observed with increasing iron and manganese concentrations in bilberry leaves. Parameters such as protein, non-protein -SH groups and changes in GPX activity seem to be universal, sensitive and correlated well with heavy metal stress.