Innate immune system is the primary defense mechanism against pathogen infection in teleost, which are living in pathogen-rich aquatic environment. It has been long hypothesized that the disease resistance in teleost are strongly correlated to the activities of innate immune genes. Tilapia is an important economical fish around the world, especially in China, where the production accounts for nearly half of the global production. Recently, S. agalactiae has become one of the most serious bacterial diseases in southern China, resulted in high cumulative mortality and economic loss to tilapia industry. Therefore, we sought here to characterize the expression profiles of tilapia against S. agalactiae infection at whole transcriptome level by RNA-seq technology. A total of 2822 genes were revealed significantly expressed in tilapia spleen with a general trend of induction. Notably, most of the genes were rapidly the most induced at the early timepoint. The significantly changed genes highlighted the function of pathogen attachment and recognition, antioxidant/apoptosis, cytoskeletal rearrangement, and immune activation. Collectively, the induced expression patterns suggested the strong ability of tilapia to rapidly recognize the invasive bacteria, and activation of downstream immune signaling pathways to clear the bacteria and prevent the tissue damage and bacteria triggered cell apoptosis. Our results heighted important roles of novel candidate genes which were often missed in previous tilapia studies. Further studies are needed to characterize the molecular relationships between key immune genes and disease resistance, and to identify the candidate genes for molecular-assistant selection of disease-resistant broodstock and evaluation of disease prevention and treatment measures.