The noble scallop Chlamys nobilis belongs to a warm-water mollusk and has been cultured in the sea of southern China since 1980s'. However, accidents of massive mortality have often occurred during the winter, and one of the reasons could be accumulation of harmful reactive oxygen species caused by lower temperature. Carotenoids are well known for their anti-oxidant function. To investigate whether carotenoids do play a role in mollusks' antioxidant defense system under lower temperature stress, an acute lower temperature experiment was conducted by using two types of scallops: the orange with higher carotenoids content and the brown with lower carotenoids content. Their CuZnSOD gene was cloned, mRNA expression levels were determined, and SOD activity and carotenoids content were measured. The complete CuZnSOD cDNA consists of 1078 nucleotides with an open reading frame encoding 154 amino acid residues, which has high identity with that of its sister species Chlamys farreri. The mRNA expression levels in both the mantle and gill from the orange scallops were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than that of the brown ones, but the result was the opposite in the blood. SOD activity in the mantle and gill from the orange scallops was significantly higher than (P < 0.05) that from the brown ones. Further, significantly positive correlations were found among CuZnSOD gene transcript levels, SOD activity and total carotenoids content in the orange scallops. The present results suggested that carotenoids could play roles in antioxidant defense system by upregulating gene expression under lower temperature stress in the noble scallop.