In trout and salmon, the metabolic costs of exercise and feeding are additive, which would suggest that gastrointestinal blood flow during exercise is maintained to preserve digestive and absorptive processes related to the specific dynamic action (SDA) of food. However, in most published studies, gastrointestinal blood flow drops during swimming, hypoxia, and general stress. To test whether gastrointestinal blood flow is spared during exercise after feeding, sea bass were instrumented with flow probes to measure cardiac output and celiacomesenteric blood flow while swimming in a respirometer before and after feeding. Swimming at 2 body lengths per second (bl s(-1)) increased metabolic rate considerably more than did feeding (208% vs. 32% increase, respectively, relative to resting), and a similar pattern was observed for cardiac output. In unfed fish, resting gastrointestinal blood flow was 13.8+/-0.5 mL min(-1) kg(-1). After feeding, resting gastrointestinal blood flow increased by 82% but then decreased progressively with increasing swimming speeds. At 2 bl s(-1), gastrointestinal blood flow in fed fish was not significantly different compared with that in unfed swimming fish, and, therefore, the data do not support the gastrointestinal sparing hypothesis. The magnitude of the SDA was maintained despite the decrease in gastrointestinal blood flow and the consequent reduction in oxygen supply to the gut. An estimate of maximal oxygen flow to the gastrointestinal tract after feeding yielded 2.6 mmol O(2) h(-1) kg(-1), but this amount is not able to cover the oxygen demand of 3.16 mmol O(2) h(-1) kg(-1). Therefore, the SDA must reflect metabolic processes in tissues other than those directly perfused by the celiacomesenteric artery.