The success of any symbiosis under stress conditions is dependent upon the responses of both partners to that stress. The coral symbiosis is particularly susceptible to small increases of temperature above the long term summer maxima, which leads to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching, where the intracellular dinoflagellate symbionts are expelled. Here we for the first time used quantitative PCR to simultaneously examine the gene expression response of orthologs of the coral Acropora aspera and their dinoflagellate symbiont Symbiodinium. During an experimental bleaching event significant up-regulation of genes involved in stress response (HSP90 and HSP70) and carbon metabolism (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, glycogen synthase and glycogen phosphorylase) from the coral host were observed. In contrast in the symbiont, HSP90 expression decreased, while HSP70 levels were increased on only one day, and only the α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase expression levels were found to increase. In addition the changes seen in expression patterns of the coral host were much larger, up to 10.5 fold, compared to the symbiont response, which in all cases was less than 2-fold. This targeted study of the expression of key metabolic and stress genes demonstrates that the response of the coral and their symbiont vary significantly, also a response in the host transcriptome was observed prior to what has previously been thought to be the temperatures at which thermal stress events occur.