The Madras Red sheep, a native breed of Tamil Nadu in India, is known for its high-quality meat and skin. The present study was carried out in 652 flocks consisting of 16 173 sheep in 46 villages randomly selected from the breeding tract to characterize and evaluate Madras Red sheep under field conditions during the period from 2006 to 2009. The data on various sheep management practices viz. flock size, housing, feeding, breeding, disease, etc. were collected based on personal observation and information provided by the farmers. The body weight and different body measurements namely horn length, ear length, tail length, height at withers, chest girth, body girth, flank girth, elbow-pin length and poll–tail length were taken. The animals are found to be medium in size with well built body having a broad and deep chest. Most of the animals are red in colour which varied from tan to dark brown. The flock size varies from 20 to 50. The main breeding season is from July to September. In 62 percent of rams, the horns are medium sized and about 15–25 cm long. In about 4 percent of ewes, the horns are small and less than 15 cm. The ears are pendulous and the tail is medium in length. The mean body weights in age groups of 0–3, 3–6, 6–12 and >12 months of males were 9.20, 12.68, 14.31 and 24.33 kg, respectively, and they were 8.93, 13.08, 17.59 and 24.23 kg, respectively, in females. The animals have excellent feed conversion efficiency under extreme conditions with a high dressing percentage. Sheep farming forms a major source of livelihood for the farmers of the study area and the non-availability of good quality fodder was the major constraint in the farming system. The results of the present study revealed that there is a scope for increasing the productivity of this breed.