This study examines stress responses in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) when exposed to a moderate and transient reduction (35% O(2) sat.) in dissolved oxygen at a range of temperatures (5 degrees C, 10 degrees C and 15 degrees C), conditions occurring in some areas they inhabit. Given their geographical distribution pattern, and differences in preferred temperature of cod with different haemoglobin types, the study was extended to include haemoglobin polymorphism. We hypothesised that the differences in temperature preference between HbI-1 and HbI-2 type cod might also be reflected in a difference in stress response to hypoxia exposure. Two hsp70-isoforms (labelled a and b) were detected and they differed in expression in the gills but not in the liver of Atlantic cod. Acclimation temperature significantly affected the expression of hsp70 in the liver, and in an isoform-specific manner in the gills. Hypoxia exposure increased the expression of hsp70 in the liver, but not the gills, of cod and this response was not influenced by the acclimation temperature. The expression of hsp70 in both tissues did not differ between fish with different haemoglobin types. Acclimation temperature significantly impacted plasma cortisol but not lactate levels. Also, acute oxygen limitation or HbI-type significantly elevated plasma cortisol and lactate levels but these responses were not modulated by acclimation temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that both temperature acclimation and acute hypoxic exposure influence the organismal and cellular stress responses in Atlantic cod. We hypothesise that HbI-2 fish are more tolerant to short-term hypoxic episodes than HbI-1 fish, and this adaptation may be independent of tissue hsp70 expression.