Stock contribution studies of mixed-stock fisheries rely on the application of classification algorithms to samples of unknown origin. Although the performance of these algorithms can be assessed, there are no guidelines regarding decisions about including minor stocks, pooling stocks into regional groups, or sampling discrete substocks to adequately characterize a stock. We examined these questions for striped bass Morone saxatilis of the U.S. Atlantic coast by applying linear discriminant functions to meristic and morphometric data from fish collected from spawning areas. Some of our samples were from the Hudson and Roanoke rivers and four tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. We also collected fish of mixed-stock origin from the Atlantic Ocean near Montauk, New York. Inclusion of the minor stock from the Roanoke River in the classification algorithm decreased the correct-classification rate, whereas grouping of the Roanoke River and Chesapeake Bay stock into a regional (''southern'') group increased the overall resolution. The increased resolution was offset by our inability to obtain separate contribution estimates of the groups that were pooled. Although multivariate analysis of variance indicated significant differences among Chesapeake Bay substocks, increasing the number of substocks in the discriminant analysis decreased the overall correct-classification rate. Although the inclusion of one, two, three, or four substocks in the classification algorithm did not greatly affect the overall correct-classification rates, the specific combination of substocks significantly affected the relative contribution estimates derived from the mixed-stock sample. Future studies of this kind must balance the costs and benefits of including minor stocks and would profit from examination of the variation in discriminant characters among all Chesapeake Bay substocks.