Various known and unknown viral diseases can threaten crustacean aquaculture. To develop prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against viruses, crustacean cell lines are urgently needed for immunology and virology studies. However, there are currently no permanent crustacean cell lines available. In this study, we developed a new method for preparing crayfish plasma (CP) and found that CP enhanced the proliferative capacity of haematopoietic tissue (hpt) cells from Cherax quadricarinatus by an EdU (5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine) assay. The optimal CP concentration for hpt cell culture and the optimal subculture method are discussed. To achieve efficient expression of a foreign gene in hpt cells cultured in vitro, different transfection methods and vectors were analysed. We found that Lipofectamine 2000 could be used to efficiently transfect a foreign vector into hpt cells and exhibited a lower level of cytotoxicity than the other methods tested, and transfection of pEGFP-N1/w249 and pDHsp70-EGFP-FLAG resulted in high EGFP expression. By transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and virus copy number analysis, we found that white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) could infect hpt cells and multiply efficiently. Our results implied that the crayfish hpt cell culture system we improved could be used as a replacement for immortal crustacean cell lines in viral infection studies. Our findings provide a solid foundation for future immortalization and gene function studies in crustacean cells.