The effect of fenitrothion exposure on birds was examined by measuring aerobic metabolism, blood hemoglobin content, plasma cholinesterases, and body weight for up to 21 d postdose. Peak metabolic rate was measured in a flight chamber in three-dose groups of house sparrows (Passer domesticus; 100 mg/kg = high, 60 mg/kg = medium, 30 mg/kg = low) and one-dose groups of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata; 3 mg/kg) and king quails (Coturnix chinensis; 26 mg/kg). Aerobic metabolism was measured during 1 h of exposure to subfreezing thermal conditions in low-dose house sparrows and king quails (26 mg/kg). Fenitrothion had no effect on metabolic rate during cold exposure or on blood hemoglobin at any time. By contrast, aerobic performance during exercise in sparrows was reduced by 58% (high), 18% (medium), and 20% (low), respectively, 2 d postdose. House sparrows (high) had the longest recovery period for peak metabolic rate (21 d) and plasma cholinesterase activity (14 d). House sparrows (high) and treated king quails had significantly lower myoglobin at 48 h postdose, whereas myoglobin was invariant in zebra finches and house sparrows (medium and low). Cholinesterase was maximally inhibited at 6 h postdose, and had recovered within 24 h, in house sparrows (low), king quails, and zebra finches. Exercise peak metabolic rate in zebra finches and king quails was reduced by 23% at 2 d and 3 d, respectively, despite these birds being asymptomatic in both behavior and plasma cholinesterase activities. © 2009 SETAC.