The population structure of the European flying squid Todarodes sagittatus was studied using data of about 5000 squid caught in waters off the western Sahara between 1969 and 1997. The bulk of the population consisted of winter-spawned squid, which occurred as juveniles of 80–120 mm mantle length (ML) over the slope in spring, and as immature squid of 160–180 mm ML both on the shelf and slope in summer. In autumn, the squid attained 220–280 mm ML, matured, and shifted to the slope, where the spawning was supposed to occur in winter. Age and growth of T. sagittatus was studied using statolith ageing techniques. Assuming daily production of putative growth increments within statoliths, as well as sizes and proportions of immature and maturing females, the lifespan of the west Saharan populations of T. sagittatus lasts ∼1 y. Todarodes sagittatus is a fast growing squid at juvenile and immature ontogenetic phases. Early maturation (at ages 220–230 d in males and 250–260 d in females, respectively) and subsequent decrease of somatic growth rates caused rather small modal sizes of mature squid (250–300 mm ML) compared with those of their northern counterparts (350–420 mm ML). Both hatching dates and seasonality in occurrence of mature females shows that in waters off the western Sahara T. sagittatus spawns throughout the year with a well-pronounced winter peak.