The present study evaluated the effect of salt, oregano essential oil (EO) and packaging on fresh rainbow trout fillets during storage at 4 degrees C. Treatments included the following: A1 (control samples, unsalted: air packaged), A2 (salted: air packaged), VP1 (salted, vacuum packaged), VP2 (salted, vacuum packaged with added oregano EO 0.2% v/wt), and VP3 salted, vacuum packaged with added oregano EO 0.4% v/wt). Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) (to a greater extent), followed by H(2)S-producing bacteria (including Shewanella putrefaciens), Pseudomonas spp. and Enterobacteriaceae reached higher populations in A1, A2 (as compared to VP1, VP2 and VP3) trout samples. Treatments VP1, VP2 and VP3 produced significantly lower (P < 0.05) total volatile basic nitrogen (TVBN) and trimethylamine nitrogen (TMAN) values as compared to the A1 and A2 samples after day 6 and until end of storage period. Changes in thiobarbituric acid values (TBA) Values for A1, A2, VP1, VP2 and VP3 samples were variable, indicative of no specific trend in trout samples, irrespective of packaging in the absence and/or presence of salt and oregano EC. As determined by sensory analysis (overall acceptability attribute) the observed shelf-life of trout fillets was longest for VP2 (16-17 days) followed by VP1 (14 days), A2 (8 days) and control (A1) samples (5 days). The presence of salt and oregano oil (0.2%) in cooked VP1 trout samples produced a distinct but sensorially acceptable pleasant odor, well received by the panellists, in contrast to the combined effect of salt and oregano oil at the higher concentrations (0.4% v/wt) used. Addition of salt (treatment VP1) extended the product's shelf-life by 9 days, whereas the combination of salt, oregano EO (0.2% v/wt) under VP conditions (treatment VP2) resulted in a significant shelf-life extension of trout fillets (11-12 days) according to sensory data, as compared to the control sample, kept under aerobic conditions. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.