The fecundity of European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) in the Irish Sea between 2000 and 2004 was estimated during the spawning season for fish in the three main spawning areas (Liverpool Bay, the Cumbrian coast, and the western Irish Sea) and one small spawning group on the west coast of the Isle of Man. Fecundity was also estimated during September of 2003 and 2004. The aim of this was to assess the variability in fecundity between areas and years in the Irish Sea and also to identify when differences in fecundity become apparent in the maturation cycle. There were variations in fecundity on both the temporal and spatial scales. The greatest variation in fecundity between years occurred in the western Irish Sea, whereas there was no variation between years in the southeastern Irish Sea (Liverpool Bay). There was no difference in fecundity between areas or years during September. The maximum fecundity in plaice is determined by the total weight of the fish at the end of follicle recruitment in the ovary, and differences in the fecundity of each population are the result of different levels of down-regulation in the period between the end of follicle proliferation and spawning.