Intensive aquaculture has increased the susceptibility of fish to Aeromonas hydrophila, and this has led to severe economic damage. There has been little study of the host defense mechanism against A. hydrophila infection in scaleless fish. Therefore, in the present study, the transcriptome profiles of the spleen of Pelteobagrus vachellii were examined after infection with A. hydrophila. In total, 37,730 unigenes from 322 KEGG pathways were identified. Following A. hydrophila infection, 27,803 differentially expressed genes were identified, including 13,934 upregulated and 13,869 downregulated genes. Significant enrichment analysis of these differentially expressed unigenes showed that the major immune pathways were involved, including toll-like receptor pathways, B-cell receptor signaling pathways, Fcγ receptor-mediated phagocytosis, complement and coagulation cascades, and natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity pathways. From these pathways, 59 key immune-related differentially expressed genes were selected: 53 genes that were upregulated, including those coding for complement components, interferons, and interleukins, and six DEGs that were downregulated, including inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa-B kinase. Finally, nine DEGs, which were randomly selected, were confirmed by qRT-PCR to be differentially expressed. The results indicated that complement components, interferons and Fcγ receptor-mediated phagocytosis played key role in the response to A. hydrophila infection in the spleen of P. vachellii, which may prove useful in the future for the development of therapeutic regimens.