Abstract: Spoilage of fresh and lightly preserved fish products is caused by microbial action. This paper reviews the current knowledge in terms of the microbiology of fish and fish products with particular emphasis on identification of specific spoilage bacteria and the qualitative and quantitative biochemical indicators of spoilage. Shewanella putrefaciens and Pseudomonas spp. are the specific spoilage bacteria of iced fresh fish regardless of the origin of the fish. Modified atmosphere stored marine fish from temperate waters are spoiled by the CO2 resistant Photobacterium phosphoreum whereas Gram-positive bacteria are likely spoilers of CO2 packed fish from fresh or tropical waters. Fish products with high salt contents may spoil due to growth of halophilic bacteria (salted fish) or growth of anaerobic bacteria and yeasts (barrel salted fish). Whilst the spoilage of fresh and highly salted fish is well understood, much less is known about spoilage of lightly preserved fish products. It is concluded that the spoilage is probably caused by lactic acid bacteria, certain psychotrophic Enterobacteriaceae and/or Photobacterium phosphoreum. However, more work is needed in this area.