As crucial components of the toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor (IL-1R) signaling pathways, interleukin-1 receptor associated kinase (IRAK) family members play essential roles in an animal's immune response. In this study, an IRAK family member, designated EcIRAK-1, was identified in the orange-spotted grouper Epinephelus coioides, and its role in signal transduction investigated. The full-length EcIRAK-1 gene is 2822 bp, encoding a 760-amino-acid protein that has the typical characteristics of mammalian IRAK-1, including an N-terminal death domain, a ProST domain, a central kinase domain, and C-terminal C1 and C2 domains. EcIRAK-1 shares 42%–79% sequence identity with other fish IRAK-1 proteins, and the death and kinase domains are more conserved than the other domains. Several important amino acids and motifs of mammalian IRAK-1 are also conserved in the grouper and other piscine IRAK-1s. In healthy grouper, EcIRAK-1 was broadly expressed in all the tissues tested, with the highest expression in the gill and skin. After infection with Cryptocaryon irritans, EcIRAK-1 expression increased in the gill and spleen. After its exogenous expression in HEK293T cells, EcIRAK-1 significantly activated nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB). The death domain, ProST domain, and some conserved amino acids, such as T58, T207, K237, and T387, in EcIRAK-1 are required for its signaling function. These data demonstrate that piscine IRAK-1 has the same structural characteristics as its mammalian counterpart and that its function is conserved among vertebrates.