© 2017, The Ecological Society of Japan. Vertebrates differ in their ability to mount an adaptive immune response to novel antigens. Bioenergetic resources available to an organism are finite; investment in reproduction compromises immune function and may therefore affect critical life history trade-offs. We tested whether reproduction impairs the ability to produce an antibody response against a novel antigen in roach (Rutilus rutilus). The antigen approach has rarely been used in fish studies, and the ability to produce an antibody response during reproductive season has never been tested in cyprinid fish before. The fish in an experimental group were injected with a Brucella abortus (BA) antigen, while the fish in a control group were injected with an isotonic saline solution. Blood samples were extracted from all the fish to obtain the total number and proportion of blood cells such as lymphocytes, neutrophils and antioxidant glutathione. The groups were tested during the spawning season and one week after it had ended. The roach were unable to mount an immune response during spawning but produced a robust response after it. We conclude that reproduction is costly in roach, as indicated by the increased concentration of neutrophils in fish injected with BA during spawning, as well as the negative associations between neutrophil counts and glutathione levels. This study demonstrates the potential of BA antigen as a research tool in experimental research on fish ecological immunology.