Abstract Literature data are reviewed on the origin, distribution, economic benefits and impacts of common carp Cyprinus carpio L. in the Mediterranean region. Despite the ubiquity of domesticated and feral forms, wild populations of the genetically pure ancestor are still found in confined areas of Thrace and Northern Anatolia, and possibly in eastern parts of Greece. Introductions and translocations throughout the region from at least Roman times have been driven by a combination of historical, economic and cultural motives, which have contributed to the spread of the species into many freshwater systems. Although impacts have been either documented or suspected in most areas of distribution, and intervention by biomanipulation successfully implemented in some water bodies, there is a compelling need for more focused research in more vulnerable areas characterised by drier/warmer and overall more unpredictable climate conditions, which appear to favour successful common carp population dynamics. In contrast to large-scale (i.e. country-wide) control measures, likely to prove unfeasible because of the intrinsically high costs associated and/or loss of revenue from sport fishing and fisheries activities, localised (integrated) management actions, followed by post-intervention monitoring, are likely to benefit targeted water bodies for increased amenity and restoration value.