Abstract The effects of temperature changes on oxygen consumption of Chinese shrimp ( Fenneropenaeus chinensis Osbeck) were studied. The response of oxygen consumption to a temperature rise was conformed to partial metabolic compensation. No compensatory response was observed at lower temperature. A sudden temperature increase by 12 °C resulted an overshoot in oxygen consumption in shrimp adapted to 19 °C, while a sudden decrease by 12 °C in shrimp adapted to 19 °C resulted in an undershoot in oxygen consumption. The shrimp adapted to 31 °C responded with an undershoot in oxygen consumption when a sudden temperature drop by 12 °C occurred. But overshoot in oxygen consumption did not occur when the shrimps were transferred back from 19 to 31 °C. The amplitude of oxygen consumption was reduced in shrimp during the process of acclimation to the temperature diel fluctuation. After the shrimp had adapted to the temperature fluctuation, the daily mean oxygen consumption of shrimp at diel temperature fluctuation from 24 to 30 °C was significantly lower than those adapted to the constant temperature at 27 °C ( P<0.05). The decrease in metabolic rate may account for the increase in the growth rate of shrimp at a diel fluctuating thermal regime.