Biomolecular profiling with Fourier-Transform InfraRed Microscopy was performed to distinguish the Zn(2+)-mediated effects on the crustacean (Porcellio scaber) digestive glands from the ones elicited by the ZnO nanoparticles (NPs). The exposure to ZnO NPs or ZnCl2 (1500 and 4000 µg Zn/g of dry food) activated different types of metabolic pathways: some were found in the case of both substances, some only in the case of ZnCl2, and some only upon exposure to ZnO NPs. Both the ZnO NPs and the ZnCl2 increased the protein (∼1312 cm(-1); 1720-1485 cm(-1)/3000-2830 cm(-1)) and RNA concentration (∼1115 cm(-1)). At the highest exposure concentration of ZnCl2, where the effects occurred also at the organismal level, some additional changes were found that were not detected upon the ZnO NP exposure. These included changed carbohydrate (most likely glycogen) concentrations (∼1043 cm(-1)) and the desaturation of cell membrane lipids (∼3014 cm(-1)). The activation of novel metabolic pathways, as evidenced by changed proteins' structure (at 1274 cm(-1)), was found only in the case of ZnO NPs. This proves that Zn(2+) are not the only inducers of the response to ZnO NPs. Low bioavailable fraction of Zn(2+) in the digestive glands exposed to ZnO NPs further supports the role of particles in the ZnO NP-generated effects. This study provides the evidence that ZnO NPs induce their own metabolic responses in the subtoxic range.