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Ammonia can easily form in intensive culture systems due to ammonification of uneaten food and animal excretion, which usually brings detrimental health effects to fish. However, little information is available on the mechanisms of the detrimental effects of ammonia stress and mitigate means in fish. In this study, the four experimental groups were carried out to test the response of yellow catfish to ammonia toxicity and their mitigation through taurine: group 1 was injected with NaCl, group 2 was injected with ammonium acetate, group 3 was injected with ammonium acetate and taurine, and group 4 was injected taurine. The results showed that ammonia poisoning could induce ammonia, glutamine, glutamate and malondialdehyde accumulation, and subsequently lead to blood deterioration (red blood cell, hemoglobin and serum biochemical index reduced), oxidative stress (superoxide dismutase and catalase activities declined) and immunosuppression (lysozyme, 50% hemolytic complement, total immunoglobulin, phagocytic index and respiratory burst reduced), but the exogenous taurine could mitigate the adverse effect of ammonia poisoning. In addition, ammonia poisoning could induce up-regulation of antioxidant enzymes (Cu/Zn-SOD, CAT, GPx and GR), inflammatory cytokines (TNF, IL-1 and IL-8) and apoptosis (p53, Bax, caspase 3 and caspase 9) genes transcription, suggesting that cell apoptotic and inflammation may relate to oxidative stress. This result will be helpful to understand the mechanism of aquatic toxicology induced by ammonia in fish.Ammonia poisoning induces oxidative stress and inflammation.High blood ammonia level leads cell apoptotic.The exogenous taurine could mitigate the adverse effect.