This study attempted to investigate if the tolerance of soil bacterial communities in general, and autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in particular, evolved as a result of prolonged exposure to metals, and could be used as an indigenous bioindicator for soil metal pollution. A soil contaminated with copper, chromium, and arsenic (CCA) was mixed with an uncontaminated garden soil (GS3) to make five test soils with different metal concentrations. A modified potential ammonium oxidation assay was used to determine the metal tolerance of the AOB community. Tolerance to Cr, Cu, and As was tested at the beginning and after up to 13 months of incubation. Compared with the reference GS3 soil, the five CCA soils showed significantly higher tolerance to Cr no matter which form of Cr (Cr3+, CrO42-, or Cr2O72-) was tested, and the Cr tolerance correlated with the total soil Cr concentration. However, the tolerance to Cu2+, As3+, and As5+ did not differ significantly between the GS3 soil and the five CCA soils. Community level physiological profiles using Biolog microtiter plates were also used to examine the chromate tolerance of the bacterial communities extracted after six months of exposure. Our results showed that the bacterial community tolerance was altered and increased as the soil Cr concentration was increased, indicating that the culturable microbial community and the AOB community responded in a similar manner.