Nutrient stress is one of the most favorable ways of increasing neutral lipid and high value-added output production by microalgae. However, little is known about the level of the oxidative damage caused by nutrient stress for obtaining an optimal stress level for maximum production of specific molecules. In this study, the antioxidant response of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii grown under element deprivation (nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus and magnesium) and supplementation (nitrogen and zinc) was investigated. All element regimes caused a decrease in growth, which was most pronounced under N deprivation. Element deprivation and Zn supplementation caused significant increases in H2O2 and lipid peroxidation levels of C.reinhardtii. Decrease in total chlorophyll level was followed by an increase of total carotenoid levels in C.reinhardtii under N and S deprivation while both increased under N supplementation. Confocal imaging of live cells revealed dramatic changes of cell shape and production of neutral lipid bodies accompanied by a decrease of chlorophyll clusters. Antioxidant capacity of cells decreased under N, S and P deprivation while it increased under N and Zn supplementation. Fluctuation of antioxidant enzyme activities in C.reinhardtii grown under different element regimes refers to different metabolic sources of reactive oxygen species production triggered by a specific element absence or overabundance.