Aquatic hypoxia caused by eutrophication may lead to mass mortality of valuable living resources such as fish and shrimp. However, there is little information on the hypoxic tolerance of penaeid shrimp, and whether they are able to avoid hypoxia. In laboratory experiments, LC50, LT50 and heart beats per minute were determined for juvenile Metapenaeus ensis at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 6.0 mg O2 l(-1). The 8-h LC50, for DO was 0.77 mg O2 l(-1), while the LT50 at 0.5 mg O2 l(-1) was 399 min. Heart beat rate significantly declined when DO fell below 1.0 mg O2 l(-1). When confronted with a gradient of dissolved oxygen, M. ensis were able to avoid hypoxic areas and move to oxygenated water. M. ensis appeared to be sensitive to hypoxia, and their ability to detect and avoid hypoxia may enhance their survival in habitats where hypoxia may occur.