The oxygen consumption rate of the southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii, was evaluated in response to body weight, temperature, activity, handling, diurnal rhythm, feeding and oxygen saturation level. There was a positive relationship between standard oxygen consumption (M(O(2))) and both body weight and water temperature. The relationship between total oxygen consumption and wet whole body weight was described by the equation: LogM(O(2))=0.595log W-0.396 (r(2)=0.83). The relationship between weight-specific oxygen consumption and temperature was described by the equation: LogM(O(2))=0.047T-2.25 (r(2)=0.94). Activity had a significant influence on the oxygen consumption rate, causing a three-fold increase above the standard rate at the temperature of acclimation (13 degrees C). However, at temperatures approaching the upper and lower extremes, lobsters had a decreased ability to increase their oxygen consumption rates during activity. Lobsters took 4.5-5 h to return to standard oxygen consumption rates after a period of emersion and handling. A strong diurnal rhythm to oxygen consumption was recorded. J. edwardsii displayed a classic postprandial increase in oxygen consumption. A peak (1.72 times standard M(O(2))) occurred 10-13 h after feeding with an increase above standard M(O(2)) being maintained for 42 h. In its rested state J. edwardsii was an oxygen regulator down to a critical oxygen tension of 58 Torr, whilst activity resulted in the critical oxygen tension increasing to 93 Torr.