Relationships between live and preserved lengths of larval and juvenile bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, subjected to simulated capture, net retention and preservation were investigated. Bass larvae and juveniles shrank during the period of net retention following death. Preserved lengths of larvae, but not of juveniles, decreased significantly when increased periods of net retention preceded preservation. The time which larvae or juveniles remained in 4% formaldehyde in distilled water buffered with 3gl−1 sodium acetate trihydrate or in 70% ethanol in distilled water neutralized with 1gl−1 calcium carbonate powder, had no significant effect upon preserved length. Appropriate data were pooled to calculate transformation factors for estimating live from preserved length. Shrinkage phenomena, and their effects, are discussed. It is suggested that larval bass captured and preserved during standard ichthyoplankton surveys are unsuitable for determination of live length.