Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis) is a critically endangered species. A flume-type respirometer, with video, was used to conduct two consecutive stepped velocity tests at 10, 15, 20, and 25 °C. Extent of recovery was measured after the 60-min recovery period between trials, and the recovery ratio for critical swimming speed (U crit) averaged 91.88% across temperatures. Temperature (T) effects were determined by comparing U crit, oxygen consumption rate (MO 2), and tail beat frequency (TBF) for each temperature. Results from the two trials were compared to determine the effect of exercise. The U crit occurring at 15 °C in both trials was significantly higher than that at 10 and 25 °C (p < 0.05). The U crit was plotted as a function of T and curve-fitting allowed calculation of the optimal swimming temperature 3.28 BL/s at 15.96 °C (trial 1) and 2.98 BL/s at 15.85 °C (trial 2). In trial 1, MO 2 increased rapidly with U, but then declined sharply as swimming speed approached U crit. In trial 2, MO 2 increased more slowly, but continuously, to U crit. TBF was directly proportional to U and the slope (dTBF/dU) for trial 2 was significantly lower than that for trial 1. The inverse slope (tail beats per body length, TB/BL) is a measure of swimming efficiency and the significant difference in slopes implies that the exercise training provided by trial 1 led to a significant increase in swimming efficiency in trial 2.