Explanations of spatial and temporal variation in species richness is a central theme in community ecology Until recently, most research has focused on small-scale phenomena, often emphasizing on local environmental factors and, thus, poorly reflecting large-scale processes that organize species richness In this paper, we analyze variations in species richness of indigeneous freshwater fish on a worldwide scale We show that factors related to species-area and species-energy theories statistically explain most of the variation in freshwater fish species richness across continents Historical events supposed to influence present distributions offish are of little assistence in explaining variations in fish species richness at the global scale Our model, which uses easily measured factors, should also be of practical value to aquatic conservation biology and natural resource management