Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei (1050 individuals with initial weight of 1.01 ± 0.001 g) were fed either control diet or one of six dietary astaxanthin (AX) concentration (25, 50, 75, 100, 125 and 150 mg kg−1) diets for 56 days in 35 tanks (30 shrimp per tank). After 56 days of culture, shrimp-fed AX125 and AX150 diets had higher (P < 0.05) weight gain, specific growth rate, total antioxidant status and lower (P < 0.05) superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) than shrimp fed control diet. After low dissolved oxygen stress for 1 h, survival rate of shrimp fed AX75, AX100, AX125 and AX150 diets was higher (P < 0.05) than that of shrimp fed control diet. Hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), cytosolic manganese superoxide dismutase (cMnSOD) and CAT mRNA expression levels of shrimp fed seven diets were significantly down-regulated under hypoxia than under normoxia, but their expression levels were higher under hypoxia in shrimp fed AX-supplemented diets than in shrimp fed control diet. About 70-kDa heat-shock protein (Hsp70) mRNA expression level of shrimp fed seven diets was significantly up-regulated under hypoxia than under normoxia, but its expression level was lower under hypoxia in shrimp fed AX-supplemented diets than in shrimp fed control diet.