Scales from 682 gudgeon from the River Frome and 504 from the River Stour were used for age determinations. Growth in length was confined to the period May to October, but some weight increase occurred during the winter because of gonad development. Growth rates in the two rivers were the same, and were higher than most of those reported from other European rivers. Wide fluctuations, up to 12-fold, occurred in the year-class strengths of Frome gudgeon, caused by variations in the survival of juvenile gudgeon in their first year of life. Density-independent factors, particularly water temperature, were major influences. Female gudgeon grew marginally slower than the males, but they matured earlier and at a smaller size. They were fractional spawners but their total reproductive effort each season was high. Both sexes had low survival rates and their reproductive life spans were rarely more than three years. These life history traits support the premise that these gudgeon populations are r-selected.