The temperature dependence of aerobic scope has been suggested to be a major determinant of how marine animals will cope with future rises in environmental temperature. Here, we present data suggesting that in some animals, the temperature dependence of anaerobic scope (i.e., the capacity for surviving severe hypoxia) may determine present-day latitudinal distributions and potential for persistence in a warmer future. As a model for investigating the role of anaerobic scope, we studied two sibling species of coral-dwelling gobies, Gobiodon histrio, and G. erythrospilus, with different latitudinal distributions, but which overlap in equal abundance at Lizard Island (14°40′S) on the Great Barrier Reef. These species did not differ in the temperature dependence of resting oxygen consumption or critical oxygen concentration (the lowest oxygen level where resting oxygen consumption can be maintained). In contrast, the more equatorial species (G. histrio) had a better capacity to endure anaerobic conditions at oxygen levels below the critical oxygen concentration at the high temperatures (32–33 °C) more likely to occur near the equator, or in a warmer future. These results suggest that anaerobic scope, in addition to aerobic scope, could be important in determining the impacts of global warming on some marine animals.