Kinetic aspects of the development of lipid oxidation in complex foods as fish in the course of irradiation were analyzed with respect to the associated formation of malonaldehyde (MA) through the reactions modified so as to be consistent with those in complex foods as fish. Air-packed anchovy (Engraulis encrasicholus) samples in polyethylene pouches were irradiated at the doses of 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 kGy at 20 degrees C in st Cs-137 gamma irradiator of 1,806 kGy/h dose rate. Immediately after each irradiation, MA contents of irradiated and unirradiated samples were determined by thiobarbituric acid test. Based on the MA formation, a kinetic model to simulate the apparent oxidation of lipid in fish as a function of irradiation dose was derived from the rate equations consistent with modified reactions. Kinetic parameters and simulation were related to conditions of lipid oxidation, and associated rancidity state of fish with respect to the doses applied in different irradiation-preservation processes. Numerical values of kinetic parameters based on the MA formation were found as a threshold dose of 0.375 kGy, an apparent yield of 1.871 mu mol/kg kGy, and a maximum attainable concentration of 15.853 mu mol/kg which may be used for process control and dosimetry. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.