The toxicity of silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles is hypothesised to be mediated by dissolved metal ions and cerium dioxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs) are hypothesised to induce toxicity specifically by oxidative stress dependant on their surface redox state. To test these hypotheses, RNAseq was applied to characterise the molecular responses of cells to metal nanoparticle and metal ion exposures. The human epithelial lung carcinoma cell line A549 was exposed to different CeO2 NPs with different surface charges, micron-sized and nano-sized silver particles and silver ions, micron-sized and nano-sized zinc oxide particles and zinc ions, or control conditions, for 1 hour, 6 hours and 24 hours. Concentrations were the lower of either EC20 or 128 micrograms/mL. Transcriptional responses were characterised by RNAseq transcriptomics using an Illumina HiSeq2500 .