Short-term changes in levels of expression of nine stress response genes and oxidative damage of proteins were examined in Eisenia fetida exposed to polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) coated Ag nanoparticles (Ag-NP) and AgNO3 in natural soils. The responses varied significantly among days with the highest number of significant changes occurring on day three. Similarity in gene expression patterns between Ag-NPs and AgNO3 and significant relationships of expression of CAT and HSP70 with Ag soil concentration suggest similarity in toxicity mechanisms of Ag ions and NPs. Significant increases in the levels of protein carbonyls on day three of the exposure to both ions and Ag-NPs indicate that both treatments induced oxidative stress. Our results suggest that Ag ions drive short term toxicity of Ag-NPs in E. fetida. However, given that <15% of Ag in the NPs was oxidized in these soils, dissolution of Ag-NPs is likely to occur after or during their uptake.