The acute heat-shock response of the tropical estuarine fish species barramundi Lates calcarifer as indicated by the expression of genes within stress (hsp 90AA, hsp 90AB, hsp 70 and hsc 70), metabolic (cisy, cco II and ldh) and growth (igf1 and mstn 1) related pathways was examined following an increase in water temperature from 28 to 36° C over 30 min. Lates calcarifer were maintained at the acute stress temperature of 36° C for 1 h before being returned to 28° C and allowed to recover at this temperature for a further 2 weeks. Muscle tissue sampling over the experimental period allowed for the expression quantification of stress, metabolic and growth-related genes via quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qrt-PCR) where a robust and reliable normalization approach identified both α-tub and Rpl8 as appropriate genes for the analysis of gene expression in response to an acute heat stress. hsp90AA and hsp70 of the inducible heat-shock response pathway showed a massive up-regulation of gene expression in response to heat stress, whilst the constitutive heat-shock genes hsp90AB and hsp70 showed no change over the course of the experiment and a small increase after 2 weeks of recovery, respectively. Of the three genes representing the metabolic pathway (cisy, cco II and ldh) only cco II changed significantly showing a decrease in gene expression, which may suggest a small suppression of aerobic metabolism. igf1 of the growth pathway showed no significant differences in response to an acute heat stress, whilst mstn1 increased at the beginning of the heat stress but returned to basal levels soon after. Overall, the results demonstrate that an acute heat stress in L. calcarifer caused a significant increase in the expression of genes from the stress response pathway and a possible decrease in aerobic metabolism with only relatively minor changes to the growth pathway highlighting the hardy nature of L. calcarifer and its resilience in coping with sudden temperature changes routinely encountered within its natural environment.