Red bass, Lutjanus bohar, is a large tropical snapper (Lutjanidae) that is harvested to varying extents throughout a widespread Indo-Pacific distribution. The objective of this study was to estimate vital life history characteristics (age, growth, maturity) of red bass on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, relevant to its management. The maximum estimated age of 55+ years is the oldest reported for any tropical snapper to date. The sampling of red bass from different depth ranges resulted in different age frequency distributions, suggesting that many older red bass reside at greater depths. The fit of the von Bertalanffy growth model described a trend of relatively slow growth: L-F (fork length; mm) = 630 x (1 - e(-0.10t+3.05)), with no significant difference in fitted parameter estimates between males and females. Female red bass matured at a much larger size (L-50 = 428 mm) and older age (t(50) = 9.39 years) than males (L-50 < 300 mm, t(50) = 1.46 years) and were reproductively active over many months, from August to April. These results suggest that the red bass has a relatively K-selected life history strategy among the tropical snappers, and fish in general. This type of life history strategy predicts slow rates of turnover and a susceptibility of red bass populations to rapid over-exploitation. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.