Recovery or maintenance of sturgeon populations through natural production in perturbed rivers requires adequate knowledge of the abiotic and biotic factors that influence spawning and cause mortality of embryonic, larval, and juvenile life stages. Although it is known that year-class strength of white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus is determined within 2-3 months after spawning, little is known about specific causes of mortality to early life stages during this period. Initial spawning success is critical in the development of a strong year-class, and maximized recruitment may be dependent upon water temperature and the availability of optimal in-river habitat. Analyses have shown that increased river discharge combined with suitable water temperatures during spawning, egg incubation, yolk sac larvae dispersal, and first exogenous feeding result in greater recruitment. However, little is known about the importance of other variables, such as food availability or losses due to predation that influence year-class strength. ?? 2002 by the American Fisheries Society.