Drought and summer drying can be important disturbance events in many small streams leading to intermittent or isolated habitats. We examined what habitats act as refuges for fishes during summer drying, hypothesizing that pools would act as refuge habitats. We predicted that during drying fish would show directional movement into pools from riffle habitats, survival rates would be greater in pools than in riffles, and fish abundance would increase in pool habitats. We examined movement, survival and abundance of three minnow species, bigeye shiner (Notropis boops), highland stoneroller (Campostoma spadiceum) and creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus), during seasonal stream drying in an Ozark stream using a closed robust multi-strata mark-recapture sampling. Population parameters were estimated using plausible models within program MARK, where a priori models are ranked using Akaike's Information Criterion. Creek chub showed directional movement into pools and increased survival and abundance in pools during drying. Highland stonerollers showed strong directional movement into pools and abundance increased in pools during drying, but survival rates were not significantly greater in pools than riffles. Bigeye shiners showed high movement rates during drying, but the movement was non-directional, and survival rates were greater in riffles than pools. Therefore, creek chub supported our hypothesis and pools appear to act as refuge habitats for this species, whereas highland stonerollers partly supported the hypothesis and bigeye shiners did not support the pool refuge hypothesis. Refuge habitats during drying are species dependent. An urgent need exists to further understand refuge habitats in streams given projected changes in climate and continued alteration of hydrological regimes. ?? 2011 Springer Basel AG (outside the USA).