The present study determined the blood plasma osmolality and oxygen consumption of the perch Perca fluviatilis at different salinities (0, 10 and 15) and temperatures (5, 10 and 20° C). Blood plasma osmolality increased with salinity at all temperatures. Standard metabolic rate (SMR) increased with salinity at 10 and 20° C. Maximum metabolic rate (MMR) and aerobic scope was lowest at salinity of 15 at 5° C, yet at 20° C, they were lowest at a salinity of 0. A cost of osmoregulation (SMR at a salinity of 0 and 15 compared with SMR at a salinity of 10) could only be detected at a salinity of 15 at 20° C, where it was 28%. The results show that P. fluviatilis have capacity to osmoregulate in hyper-osmotic environments. This contradicts previous studies and indicates intraspecific variability in osmoregulatory capabilities among P. fluviatilis populations or habitat origins. An apparent cost of osmoregulation (28%) at a salinity of 15 at 20° C indicates that the cost of osmoregulation in P. fluviatilis increases with temperature under hyperosmotic conditions and a power analysis showed that the cost of osmoregulation could be lower than 12·5% under other environmental conditions. The effect of salinity on MMR is possibly due to a reduction in gill permeability, initiated to reduce osmotic stress. An interaction between salinity and temperature on aerobic scope shows that high salinity habitats are energetically beneficial during warm periods (summer), whereas low salinity habitats are energetically beneficial during cold periods (winter). It is suggested, therefore, that the seasonal migrations of P. fluviatilis between brackish and fresh water is to select an environment that is optimal for metabolism and aerobic scope.