We characterized the fish assemblages in second to fifth order streams of the upper Little Sioux River basin in northwest Iowa, USA and compared our results with historical surveys. The fish assemblage consisted of over twenty species, was dominated numerically by creek chub, sand shiner, central stoneroller and other cyprinids, and was dominated in biomass by common carp. Most of the species and the great majority of all individuals present were at least moderately tolerant to environmental degradation, and biotic integrity at most sites was characterized as fair. Biotic integrity declined with increasing stream size, and degraded habitat in larger streams is a possible cause. No significant changes in species richness or the relative distribution of species' tolerance appear to have occurred since the 1930s.