||Altered rock, as the abutment materials of Xiaowan Hydropower Station in China, is a kind of geological defective rock mass. It is loosely structured and its strength is low, with some development of pores and cavities. Research on the hydro-mechanical coupling of the altered rock are of important significance to hydropower projects. In this study, the advanced fully automatic triaxial fluid flow-rheological test servo system is employed to study the hydro-mechanical coupling characteristics of the altered rock, and the water pressures and confining pressures in the laboratory tests are set to simulate the conditions of excavation and impoundment of Xiaowan Hydropower Station. Based on the test results, the stress–strain laws of the rock specimens under the effect of complete hydro-mechanical coupling, as well as the lateral strain and volumetric strain characteristics, are studied. The fluid flow laws of the rock specimens and the effects of the confining pressures on the fluid flow are analyzed. The fluid flow failure characteristic under the effect of the complete hydro-mechanical coupling is discussed. The research achievements show that with the change of the stress states, the permeability of the rock also changes, and the permeability evolution shows the phase characteristic during the process of stress and strain. The impacts of the confining pressures on the strength and deformation and permeability of the altered rock are obvious. The failure behaviours of the rock specimens under the effect of coupling relates to the confining pressures, including two kinds of splitting failure and shear failure. The fluid flow failure characteristic of the rock specimens depend upon the initiation, growth and coalesce of micro-cracks, heterogeneity, confining pressures and properties of the rock.