The impact of stress induced by cortisol administration on the swimming performance of the European sea bass was tested measuring the fish recovery capability using a respirometer. The recovery test consisted of two exhaustive swimming exercises (U crit) separated by a recovery period. Thirty-eight fish were subjected to this trial preceded or not (control group) by a cortisol (cortisol group) or saline (placebo) injection. For validation, the classical stress parameters (cortisol, glucose, lysozyme, Hct, Hb and RBCC) were monitored. During the recovery tests, only the cortisol group showed a significant reduction in the recovery capability that was interpreted as a sign of possible physiological impairment. Hct, Hb and RBCC did not show significant inter and intra-group differences, while cortisol and glucose increased as a response to fatigue in all the groups at the end of the trials. No immune (lysozyme) response was observed in control and placebo groups, while a reduction was evidenced in the cortisol group.