Climate change and species invasions represent key threats to global biodiversity. Subarctic freshwaters are sentinels for understanding both stressors because the effects of climate change are disproportionately strong at high latitudes and invasion of temperate species is prevalent. Here, we summarize the environmental effects of climate change and illustrate the ecological responses of freshwater fishes to these effects, spanning individual, population, community and ecosystem levels. Climate change is modifying hydrological cycles across atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic components of subarctic ecosystems, causing increases in ambient water temperature and nutrient availability. These changes affect the individual behavior, habitat use, growth and metabolism, alter population spawning and recruitment dynamics, leading to changes in species abundance and distribution, modify food web structure, trophic interactions and energy flow within communities and change the sources, quantity and quality of energy and nutrients in ecosystems. Increases in temperature and its variability in aquatic environments underpin many ecological responses; however, altered hydrological regimes, increasing nutrient inputs and shortened ice cover are also important drivers of climate change effects and likely contribute to context-dependent responses. Species invasions are a complex aspect of the ecology of climate change because the phenomena of invasion are both an effect and a driver of the ecological consequences of climate change. Using subarctic freshwaters as an example, we illustrate how climate change can alter three distinct aspects of species invasions: (1) the vulnerability of ecosystems to be invaded, (2) the potential for species to spread and invade new habitats, and (3) the subsequent ecological effects of invaders. We identify three fundamental knowledge gaps focused on the need to determine (1) how environmental and landscape characteristics influence the ecological impact of climate change, (2) the separate and combined effects of climate and non-native invading species and (3) the underlying ecological processes or mechanisms responsible for changes in patterns of biodiversity.