The ecology of four relict Irish populations of pollan (Coregonus autumnalis) is compared with that of the species elsewhere, and used to advocate conservation. The threats to these populations from introduced/invasive species, habitat degradation, climate warming and commercial exploitation are summarized and the legislation governing conservation of the stocks is reviewed. Conservation options (legislation, habitat restoration, stock translocation and stock augmentation) are outlined and their practicality and efficacy considered. A preliminary search indicates that there are a number of lakes that appear to be suitable for pollan translocation. (C) 2001 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.