The silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix has spread throughout the Mississippi River drainage. During 2003, we determined its population status and potential impact in the middle Mississippi River (MMR), the conduit between the lower Mississippi River and the upper Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers. We quantified growth, age structure, fecundity, and diets of silver carp sampled with trammel nets and AC electrofishing in main-channel areas. Mean length at age in the MMR exceeded that of populations in Asia by as much as 26%. Individuals were typically more than 1 year old and 230 mm total length, suggesting that small, young fish were absent. Individuals in this population matured earlier (age 2) than in the species' native range. Regardless of phytoplankton variation (using chlorophyll a as a surrogate) and zooplankton concentration at MMR sites, phytoplankton was consistently most abundant in diets. Silver carp are finding suitable resources within the MMR, allowing individuals to grow rapidly during early life, persist as adults, and successfully disperse upstream.