Characterizing the cellular stress response (CSR) of species at ecologically relevant temperatures is useful for determining whether populations and species can successfully respond to current climatic extremes and future warming. In this study, populations of wild-caught adult pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) salmon from the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada, were experimentally treated to ecologically relevant ‘cool’ or ‘warm’ water temperatures to uncover common transcriptomic responses to elevated water temperature in non-lethally sampled gill tissue. We detected the differential expression of 49 microarray features (29 unique annotated genes and one gene with unknown function) associated with protein folding, protein synthesis, metabolism, oxidative stress and ion transport that were common between populations and species of Pacific salmon held at 19°C compared with fish held at a cooler temperature (13 or 14°C). There was higher mortality in fish held at 19°C, which suggests a possible relationship between a temperature-induced CSR and mortality in these species. Our results suggest that frequently encountered water temperatures ≥19°C, which are capable of inducing a common CSR across species and populations, may increase risk of upstream spawning migration failure for pink and sockeye salmon.