A rapid decline in temperature poses a major challenge for poikilothermic fish, as their entire metabolism depends on ambient temperature. The gene expression of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss having undergone such a cold shock (0◦C) was compared to a control (5◦C) in a microarray and quantitative real-time PCR based study. The tissues of gill, kidney and liver were examined. The most differently expressed genes were found in liver, many of them contributing to the network ‘cellular compromise, cellular growth and proliferation’.However, the number of genes found to be regulated at 0◦Cwas surprisingly low. Instead of classical genes involved in temperature shock, the three genes encoding fibroblast growth factor 1 (fgf1), growth arrest and DNA-damageinducible,alpha (gadd45a) and sclerostin domain-containing protein 1 (sostdc1) were upregulated in the liver upon cold shock in two different rainbow trout strains, suggesting that these genes may be considered as general biomarkers for cold shock in rainbow trout.