A two-stage study was carried out to test the response of juvenile darkbarbel catfish Pelteobagrus vachelli to ammonia stress, dietary lipid and bacterial challenge. At stage 1, the catfish (0.99±0.01g) fed a commercial diet were exposed to 0.01 and 5.70mgL-1 total ammonia nitrogen in nine replicates for 14 days. At stage 2, all fish previously exposed to either low or high ammonia were separately transferred into low ammonia (<0.01mgL-1), and divided into three feeding groups. Fish were then fed three levels of linseed oil (0, 2 and 4%) in triplicate for 46 days. Fish growth performance and immune response were low in high ammonia at stage 1. At stage 2, fish growth and immune response were not significantly different between fish previously exposed to low and high ammonia in all diets. Fish fed 4% linseed oil showed the greatest weight gain, feed efficiency ratio, red blood cells, hemoglobin and hematocrit, and achieved higher lysozyme activity, phagocytic index, respiratory burst and total immunoglobulin than fish fed 0% linseed oil, but did not differ from fish fed 2% linseed oil regardless of previous ammonia exposure. After 14-day infection of Edwardsiella ictaluri, cumulative mortality of fish previously exposed to low ammonia was lower than that of fish exposed to high ammonia in all diets. Cumulative mortality of fish fed 0% linseed oil was highest, but the antibody titer of fish fed 4% linseed oil was highest regardless of previous ammonia treatments. This study indicates that ammonia stress has a lasting effect even after ammonia is lowed, but the adverse effect on fish can be mitigated through manipulation of dietary oil inclusion, especially under the challenge of pathogenic bacteria.