- The marine white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei is widely cultured. Recently, farmers have begun to culture this shrimp in low‐salinity brackish water (< 6 g/L). The intensification of shrimp culture often results in occurrences of elevated nitrite concentration during the growing season. Nitrite is toxic to shrimp and exposure to high concentrations may cause retarded growth and mortalities. The current study was aimed at investigating the acute and chronic toxicity of nitrite to L. vannamei grown in low‐salinity (2 g/L) brackish water. Studies of the 96‐h EC50 and LC50 values of nitrite were performed to determine the acute toxicity, and an aquarium growth study (2 d post exposure to elevated nitrite concentrations) was conducted to evaluate the chronic effects of nitrite on shrimp production. The 96‐h EC50 and LC50 values for juvenile L. vannamei grown in water of 2 g/L salinity was about 9 mg/L NO2‐N, suggesting a safe concentration for shrimp production in ponds to be less than 0.45 mgIL NO2‐N. Exposing shrimp to nitrite concentration of 4 mg/L for 2 d reduced their growth but did not affect their survival.