ABSTRACT The effect of polyvinyl chloride packaging (PP), vacuum packaging (VP) and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) (60% O2, 30% CO2, 10% N2) on some quality parameters and microbiological profile of beef was studied. Longissimus dorsi samples were examined at 7-day intervals during storage at 4C ± 2C, until 21 days. pH of PP beef increased during storage, whereas in VP and MAP beef remained stable. Superficial color darkened for PP samples, remaining stable until 7 and 21 days for VP and MAP samples, respectively; internal color was not significantly influenced by either storage time and packaging methods. Water-holding capacity was not affected by packaging methods, increasing from 7 to 21 days. VP showed lower lipid oxidation than MAP until 21 days and than PP until 14 days. Total mesophilic counts reached the threshold of 107 ufc/g after 7 days in PP and after 14 and 21 days in MAP and VP, respectively. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS The results of this study confirmed that meat packaged in polyvinyl chloride packaging (PP) must be stored for few days to not fall into pH, color and microbiological alterations; meat packaged in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), even though maintained appreciable superficial colorimetric characteristics, showed a high microbiological growth from 14 days of storage; meat vacuum packaged (VP), although the worst colorimetric appearance, showed the best keeping properties in terms of microbiological profile and lipid oxidation lower than MAP until 21 days of storage. Nevertheless, the fact that the internal color of meat is similar among different packaging systems, independently from time of storage, may suggest that VP system may be useful for prolonged storage of big pieces of meat.