Pacific bluefin tuna inhabit a wide range of thermal environments across the Pacific ocean. To examine how metabolism varies across this thermal range, we studied the effect of ambient water temperature on metabolic rate of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, swimming in a swim tunnel. Rate of oxygen consumption (MO2) was measured at ambient temperatures of 8-25 degrees C and swimming speeds of 0.75-1.75 body lengths (BL) s(-1). Pacific bluefin swimming at 1 BL s(-1) per second exhibited a U-shaped curve of metabolic rate vs ambient temperature, with a thermal minimum zone between 15 degrees C to 20 degrees C. Minimum MO2 of 175+/-29 mg kg(-1) h(-1) was recorded at 15 degrees C, while both cold and warm temperatures resulted in increased metabolic rates of 331+/-62 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 8 degrees C and 256+/-19 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 25 degrees C. Tailbeat frequencies were negatively correlated with ambient temperature. Additional experiments indicated that the increase in MO2 at low temperature occurred only at low swimming speeds. Ambient water temperature data from electronic tags implanted in wild fish indicate that Pacific bluefin of similar size to the experimental fish used in the swim tunnel spend most of their time in ambient temperatures in the metabolic thermal minimum zone.