Erythrocytes, thrombocytes and leukocytes morphology and cytochemical staining were studied in big head carp Aristichthys nobilis, oscar Astronotus ocellatus, traíra Hoplias malabaricus and lambari Astyanax bimaculatus. Reticulocytes contained a granular material similar to residual RNA following staining with brilliant cresyl blue. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and monocytes were morphologically similar in all the four species. Thrombocytes were present in all the four species and were predominantly fusiform, whereas eosinophils occurred only in A. ocellatus. Aristichthys nobilis contained a leukocyte with unstained granules following Romanowsky-type staining, which stained intensely with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS). Glycogen granules were present in thrombocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils but not in monocytes or lymphocytes. Peroxidase staining was observed in neutrophils of A. ocellatus, H. malabaricus and A. bimaculatus but not in A. nobilis. Monocytes of A. ocellatus, H. malabaricus and A. bimaculatus stained positively for non-specific esterase, whereas those of A. nobilis did not stain. Thrombocytes and leukocytes in all four species were negative for alkaline phosphatase. Neutrophils of A. ocellatus and H. malabaricus may be involved in respiratory burst and may play an important microbicidal role.