Abstract In this study, we describe the identification and characterization of manganese superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant enzyme acting as the chief reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, from rock bream Oplegnathus fasciatus (Of-mMnSOD) at genomic- and transcriptional-levels as well as the biological activity of recombinant protein. The Of-mMnSOD protein portrayed distinct MnSOD family features including signature motifs, metal association sites and the typical active site topology. It was also predicted to be localized in mitochondrial matrix. The Of-mMnSOD had a quinquepartite genome organization encompassing five exons interrupted by four introns. Comparison of its sequence and gene structure with that of other lineages emphasized its strong conservation among different vertebrates. The Of-mMnSOD was ubiquitously transcribed in different rock bream tissues with higher levels in blood cells and metabolically active tissues. Transcription of Of-mMnSOD was kinetically modulated in response to investigational challenges using mitogens (lipopolysaccharide and poly I:C) and live-pathogens (Edwardsiella tarda and rock bream irido virus) in blood cells and liver tissue. The purified recombinant Of-mMnSOD possessed potential antioxidant capacity and actively survived over a range of pH (7.5–11) and temperature (15–40 °C) conditions. Collectively, findings of this study suggest that Of-mMnSOD combats against oxidative stress and cellular damages induced by mitogen/pathogen-mediated inflammation, by detoxifying harmful ROS (O2●−) in rock bream.