Diadromous fish often enter freshwater directly from seawater via fish ladders or channels built in estuarine dams. The oxygen consumption rates (OCR) of glass eel, Anguilla japonica, were determined using an automatic intermittent flow respirometer under various salinity and temperature regimes to physiologically explain this direct movement. The endogenous rhythm of the OCR in wild glass eels, freshly collected from estuaries, was nearly synchronous with the tidal pattern at the estuarine collection site. When the salinity was changed from 20 psu (12°C) at a constant temperature to that of freshwater, the OCR of the glass eels decreased by 21.6±7.0% (mean ± SD) (P<0.05), showing a dampened rhythm for about 48 h. After this period of impediment, the glass eels resumed normal metabolic activity. Direct migration from seawater to freshwater under constant temperature would result in a severe physiological stress for these glass eels for about two days. When the glass eels were exposed to a cyclic change in water temperature of 2°C 26 h-1, as they encounter in estuaries, and then were introduced to freshwater abruptly, the OCR rhythm corresponded to the cyclic changes in water temperature after exposure to freshwater. Under these conditions, the mean OCR of the glass eels had a small difference before and after exposure to freshwater. These data explained how glass eels can directly move from sea water into the freshwater without any apparent metabolic stress in the estuaries showing cyclic change in water temperature (Δt=2°C).