With an aim to study the mechanism of adaptation to acute hypoxic periods by hypoxia-tolerant catfish, Clarias batrachus, the mass-specific metabolic rate (VO2) along with its hematological parameters, metabolic response and antioxidant enzyme activities were studied. During progressive hypoxia, C. batrachus was found to be an oxyconformer and showed a steady decline in its aquatic oxygen consumption rate. When C. batrachus was exposed for different periods at experimental hypoxia level (0.98±0.1 mg/L, DO), hemoglobin and hematocrit concentrations were increased, along with decrease in mean cellular hemoglobin concentration, which reflected a physiological adaptation to enhance oxygen transport capacity. Significant increase in serum glucose and lactate concentration as well as lactate dehydrogenase activity was observed. Antioxidant enzymes were found to operate independently of one another, while total glutathione concentration was unaffected in any of the tissues across treatments. These observations suggested that hypoxia resulted in the development of oxidative stress and C. batrachus was able to respond through increase in the oxygen carrying capacity, metabolic depression and efficient antioxidant defense system to survive periods of acute hypoxia.