The Biceps femoris muscles from 50 hams were used in the study. Ten samples were taken for analysis on the day after slaughter. Forty hams were drycured and taken for analysis by groups of 10 at days 74, 81, 179 and 273 after the beginning of processing. Volatile compounds were extracted from the middle part of the Biceps femoris muscle by dynamic headspace extraction, then analysed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. More than 100 peaks were detected, among which 74 were identified and 52 were quantified. Most identified compounds originated from either lipid oxidation or amino acid degradation. The total quantity of extracted compounds increased dramatically between day 0 and day 74. Propanone was by far the most abundant compound, followed by the other ketones, alcohols and aromatic hydrocarbons (66·5, 9·9, 9·2 and 8·4% of the total chromatogram area, respectively, at the end of processing). The levels of individual compounds varied greatly during processing. There was some evidence of independence between the reactions producing volatile compounds from lipids and those involving amino acids.