Abstract Sardine (Sardina pilchardus, Walbaum, 1792) and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus, Linnaeus, 1758) are two commercially important coastal pelagic species. The important ecological role of these two species in Mediterranean ecosystems has been recently highlighted and in the Adriatic in particular, anchovy and sardine have been found to play an essential role through the capture of energy from the lower trophic levels, making it available to the higher trophic levels. Furthermore, they are of major importance for Adriatic sheries, accounting, together, for approximately 41% of total Adriatic marine catches and constituting extremely important shared sheries resources. The ecological and sheries importance of these two species, which essentially coexist in a relatively small area, prompted the authors to carry out a critical review of the information regarding their ecology. For each species information available on reproduction and migrations, feeding and predation, schooling and behaviour, growth and mortality, and genetic variability was collected and critically evaluated in an ecosystem functioning and sheries context. The aim of the review is to try to understand the ecological differences and similarities allowing the coexistence of the two species as well as to identify the extent and geographic distribution of information as an aid to future research efforts.