The quality and shelf life of whole ungutted and gutted sardines (Sardina pilchardus) stored in ice were studied. The changes in the fish were investigated by sensory assessments, chemical analyses and microbiological analyses. The sensory scores of uneviscerated and gutted sardines stored in ice at +4 degrees C were 7 days. The chemical indicators of spoilage, total volatile basic nitrogen and trimethylamine values of gutted sardine increased very slowly, whereas for whole ungutted samples higher values were obtained reaching a final value of 15.03-29.23 mg per 100 g and 2.36-4.16 mg per 100 g, respectively (day 9). Peroxide and thiobarbituric acid values remained lower for whole ungutted sardine samples until day 9 of storage, whereas for gutted fish were higher. The level of histamine exceeded the legal limit in whole ungutted sardine after 7 days of storage in ice, during which sardines were rejected by the sensory panel. Mesophilic aerobic bacteria count, H(2)S-producing bacteria, sulphide reducing anaerobe Clostridias, Enterobacteriaceae count of whole ungutted sardine samples are higher than gutted sardine samples during the storage. Psychrotrophic bacteria counts of the two groups were not different. The limits of microbiological data were not exceeded throughout the storage in both the groups' samples.