This article reviews the adequacy of data and models currently being used to estimate the present and future population sizes of the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni Norman) in the Ross Sea regional ecosystem. The current tagging programme is unlikely to provide an accurate picture of total population size, and estimates of both the pre-exploitation spawning stock biomass and the ratio of current to pre-exploitation biomass are unreliable. Many parameters necessary for estimating future population growth or decline have not been measured, and the current objective of a 50% reduction in biomass relative to unexploited biomass may easily fail to prevent a much larger reduction from taking place. The need to guess values of important parameters makes it impossible to set bounds on the potential errors of population forecasts. Current scientific knowledge is far from what is needed to predict the likely effects of food-web responses to harvesting of toothfish in the Ross Sea, or to predict the feedback effects of those food-web changes on toothfish populations.