1. Changes in the rate and force of scaphognathite beating, irrigation volume, oxygen utilization, oxygen consumption and heart rate during acclimation in response to the experimental conditions and in response to long-term hypoxic exposure have been measured in the crayfish Orconectes virilis.
2. Immediately following placement in the experimental chamber the animals exhibited very high levels of respiratory and circulatory performance. These levels decreased slowly and stable minimal performance levels could be measured only after 2-3 days. A 3-day acclimation period under normoxic conditions thus routinely preceded hypoxic experiments to ensure measurement of unmasked hypoxic responses.
3. Two responses to hypoxia were routinely observed: an initial hyperirrigation response maintained oxygen consumption by increased branchial water flow. This response was not maintained, but oxygen consumption remained at pre-hypoxic levels while pumping rates decreased.
4. Possible mechanisms of acclimation to hypoxia are discussed.