This study analyses the temporal and spatial changes in abundance and distribution of the warm water species round sardinella (Sardinella aurita) in the western Mediterranean over the last decades in relation to sea water temperature. In the western Mediterranean basin (1950–2003), a significant positive relationship was found between round sardinella landings and temperature anomalies. Along a latitudinal gradient off the Mediterranean Iberian coast (1989–2004), a gradual increase in species abundance was observed from south to north, with a certain time lag going northwards, associated with the increase in sea water temperature. The abundance of round sardinella in the two warmest and southernmost areas was positively and significantly correlated with sea surface temperature registered during the start of gonad maturation the previous year. In addition, the positive relationship established between water temperature and abundance of round sardinella in the coldest and northernmost study area demonstrates that there is a temperature limit for the distribution of this species in the western Mediterranean. In addition, this study analyses round sardinella larvae distribution and abundance in the summers of 2003 and 2004, and conducts a comparison with the situation 20 years ago (summer 1983). Results show a marked increase in larval abundance during the last decades and the present appearance of larvae in the northernmost study areas, where they did not occur 20 years ago. This indicates the successful reproduction of round sardinella in the northern part of the Mediterranean, where the species has expanded, confirming its establishment in the area.