Variations in the exogenous nitrogen level are known to significantly affect the physiological status and metabolism of microalgae. However, responses of red, green and yellow-green algae to nitrogen (N) availability have not been compared yet. Porphyridium cruentum, Scenedesmus incrassatulus and Trachydiscus minutus were cultured in the absence of N in the medium and subsequent resupply of N to the starved cells. Culture growth and in-gel changes in isoenzyme pattern and activity of glutamate synthase, glutamate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase were studied. The results demonstrated that the algae responded to the fully N-depleted and N-replete culture conditions by species-specific metabolic enzyme changes, suggesting differential regulation of both enzyme activity and cellular metabolism. Substantial differences in the activities of the antioxidant enzymes between N-depleted and N-replete cells of each species as well as between the species were also found. In the present work, besides the more general responses, such as adjustment of growth and pigmentation, we report on the involvement of specific metabolic and antioxidant enzymes and their isoforms in the mechanisms operating during N starvation and recovery in P. cruentum, T. minutus and S. incrassatulus.