The reproductive biology of the Mediterranean razor fish Xyrichthys novacula was investigated by demographic data and histological analysis of the female, intersexual and male gonads. Specimens were collected by bottom trawl on a monthly basis between June 2000 and July 2001
in a sandy bay in southern Thyrrenian. Gonad histology confirmed that the Mediterranean razor fish is a monandric, protogynous hermaphrodite. Females reached first sexual maturity at 100 mm (LT) and the estimated mean LT at first maturity (L50)
was 125 mm. Females exhibited asynchronous ovarian development and multiple ovulations occurred over the spawning period. Vitellogenesis started in early May and spawning occurred from late May until late September. Sexual transition involved a large‐scale atresia of all oocyte
stages and a massive degeneration of ovarian tissue followed by primordial germ cells proliferation. Sex change began at spawning time (June) but transitional individuals tended to cluster at the end of the reproductive period (September). They accounted for 17·1% of the population
sampled and were found in a broad size range (105–150 mm LT).