The rate of oxygen uptake (MO(2)) of shore crabs following a period of fasting varied directly with acclimation temperature, with a Q(10) of 2.96 between 7 degrees and 15 degrees C and a Q(10) of 2.11 between 15 degrees and 22 degrees C. The factorial rise in MO(2) following a meal (specific dynamic action [SDA]) ranged between 1.9 and 3.1 and varied with temperature, being highest at 15 degrees C and significantly lower at both 7 degrees and 22 degrees C, despite similar ration sizes in all groups. At 7 degrees C, the SDA coefficient and magnitude were significantly lower than at 15 degrees C, possibly due in part to the inhibition of protein synthesis. Both the time to peak and the duration of the SDA response were inversely related to temperature. SDA coefficients were inversely related to the amount of food consumed. The critical oxygen tension of inspired water (P(I)O(2)), which evoked the emersion response in fasted animals, increased with temperature and further increased at each temperature when the animals were fed. Thus, the threshold P(I)O(2) evoking the emersion response is directly related to relative metabolic oxygen demand in Carcinus.