In order to verify the influence of chronic and acute ambient oxygen levels from egg to adult stage of the zebrafish, in vivo oxygen consumption (MO2), critical tensions of oxygen (Pcrit), heart rate (fH) and total body lactate concentration (Lc) were determined for Danio rerio (Hamilton, 1822) raised at 28 degrees C under normoxic (7.5 mgO2.L-1 or 80 mm.Hg-1) and hypoxic conditions (4.3 mgO2.L-1) and exposed to acute hypoxia during different developmental stages. Our findings confirmed that very early stages do not respond effectively to ambient acute hypoxia. However, after the stage corresponding to the age of 30 days, D. rerio was able to respond to acute hypoxia through effective physiological mechanisms involving aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Such responses were more efficient for the fishes reared under hypoxia which showed that D. rerio survival capability increased during acclimation to mild hypoxia. Measurements of body mass and length showed that moderate hypoxia did not affect growth significantly until the fish reached the stage of 60 days. Moreover, a growth delay was verified for the hypoxic-reared animals. Also, the D. rerio eggs-to-larvae survival varied from 87.7 to 62.4% in animals reared under normoxia and mild hypoxia, respectively. However, the surviving animals raised under moderated hypoxia showed a better aptitude to regulate aerobic and anaerobic capacities when exposed to acute hypoxia.