White spot syndrome (WSS) is one of the most damaging phenomena in the culturing of shrimp. To characterize the mechanisms of the molecular responses to WSSV infection in 'Huanghai No. 2'' Fenneropenaeus chinensis, we used next-generation sequencing to observe the transcriptome after oral infection. A total of 108.6 million clean reads were obtained and assembled into 64,103 final unigenes with an average length of 845 bp (N50 = 1534 bp). The assembled unigenes contained 14,263 significant unigenes after BLASTX against the Nr database (E-value cut-off of 10−5). After comparison of digital gene expression data between challenged and control shrimp, a total of 896 DEGs after WSSV infection were identified. Gene pathway analysis indicated that 92, 131 and 142 metabolic pathways were affected at early, peak and late phases respectively. Some pathways were related to the immune response, such as the phagosome, complement and coagulation cascades, the antigen processing and presentation pathway and so on. Many immune-related genes were also identified after pathway analysis. Interestingly, some growth-related genes, such as cathepsin L, myosin regulatory light chain 2 smooth muscle, and alpha-amylase were also differentially expressed after WSSV infection, and the correlation between growth trait and WSSV-resistance trait need further research. The expression patterns of eight DEGs were confirmed by quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, and there was good agreement between RNA-seq and qRT-PCR. These data will provide valuable information for characterizing the immune mechanism of the response of shrimp's to WSSV.