The innate immunity and resistance against white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei which received the Gracilaria tenuistipitata extract were examined. Shrimp immersed in seawater containing the extract at 0 (control), 400 and 600 mg L−1 for 3 h were challenged with WSSV at 2 × 104 copies shrimp−1. Shrimp not exposed to the extract and not received WSSV challenge served as unchallenged control. The survival rate of shrimp immersed in 400 mg L−1 or 600 mg L−1 extract was significantly higher than that of challenged control shrimp over 24–120 h. The haemocyte count, phenoloxidase activity, respiratory burst, superoxide dismutase activity, and lysozyme activity of shrimp immersed in 600 mg L−1 extract were significantly higher than those of unchallenged control shrimp at 6, 6, 6, 6, and 6–24 h post-challenge. In another experiment, shrimp which had received 3 h immersion of 0, 400, 600 mg L−1 extract were challenged with WSSV. The shrimp were then received a booster (3 h immersion in the same dose of the extract), and the immune parameters were examined at 12–120 h post-challenge. The immune parameters of shrimp immersed in 600 mg L−1 extract, and then received a booster at 9, 21, and 45 h were significantly higher than those of unchallenged control shrimp at 12–48 h post-challenge. In conclusion, shrimp which had received the extract exhibited protection against WSSV as evidenced by the higher survival rate and higher values of immune parameters. Shrimp which had received the extract and infected by WSSV showed improved immunity when they received a booster at 9, 21, and 45 h post-WSSV challenge. The extract treatment caused less decrease in PO activity, and showed better performance of lysozyme activity and antioxidant response in WSSV-infected shrimp.